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iluf bcs (SIucFcs grower IPaagc 
5tctjt bic gunge felten etn, 
Du mu§t jleigen ober ftnfen, 
Du mu§t tjcrrfd^cn unb geroinnen, 
®ber bienen unb ocrlieren, 
Ceiben ober triunipl^iren, 
2lmbo§ ober jammer fein, 

Goethe, Ein Kophtisches Lied. 

When you are an anvil, Md you still. 
When you are a hammer, strike your Jill, 

G. Herbert, Jacula Prudentum. 













Corresponding Member of the Royal Academy 
of History, Madrid 



A'il rights j-eservec? 



First Edition 1892 
Reprinted 1904 


Dear Mrs. Lewis, 

This little book were not worthy of 
being associated with your name^ did it not offer 
an ideal of life at once refined and practical, 
cultured yet wisely energetic. Gracian points to 
noble aims, and proposes, on the whole, no ignoble 
means of attaining to them. The Spanish Jesuit 
sees clear, but he looks upward. 

There is, however, one side of life to which he 
is entirely blind, as was perhaps natural in an 
ecclesiastic writing before the Age of Salons. 
He nowhere makes mention in his pages of the 
gracious influence of Woman as Inspirer and 
Consoler in the Battle of Life. Permit me to 
repair this omission by placing your name in the 
forefront of this English version of his maxims. 
To those honoured with your friendship this will 
by itself suffice to recall all the ennobling associa- 
tions connected with your sex. 

Believe me, dear Mrs. Lewis, 
Yours most sincerely, 


KiLBURN, zdth October 1892. 



My attention was first drawn to the Oraculo 
Manual by Mr. (now Sir Mountstuart) Grant 
DufF's admirable article on BalthasarGracian in 
the Fortnightly ^^£/zm of March 1877. I soon 
after obtained a copy of Schopenhauer's excel- 
lent version, and during a journey in Spain I 
procured with some difficulty a villainously 
printed edition of Gracian's works (Barcelona, 
1734, "Por Joseph Giralt"), which contains the 
Oraculo Manual towards the end of the first 
volume (pp. 431-494). 

I have translated from this last, referring in 
the many doubtful places of its text to the first 
Madrid edition of 1653, the earliest in the 
British Museum. I have thoroughout had 
Schopenhauer's version by my side, and have 


found it, as Sir Mountstuart Grant DufF says, 
" a most finished piece of work," though I 
have pointed out in the Notes a few cases 
where he has failed, in my opinion, to give 
Gracian's meaning completely or correctly. I 
have little doubt that I am a fellow-sinner in 
this regard : I know no prose style that offers 
such difficulty to a translator as Gracian's 
laconic and artificial epigrams. It is not with- 
out reason that he has been called the Intra- 
ducible. The two earlier English versions 
miss his points time after time, and I found it 
useless to refer to them. On the other hand, I 
have ventured to adopt some of Sir Mount- 
stuart Grant Duff's often very happy renderings 
in the extracts contained in his Fortnightly 

I have endeavoured to reproduce Gracian's 
Laconism and Cultismo in my version, and have 
even tried to retain his many paronomasias 
and jingles of similar sound. I may have here 
and there introduced others of my own to 
redress the balance for cases where I found 
it impossible to produce the same effect in 
English. In such cases I generally give the 


original in the Notes. Wherever possible I 
have replaced Spanish proverbs and proverbial 
phrases by English ones, and have throughout 
tried to preserve the characteristic rhythm and 
brevity of the Proverb. In short, if I may 
venture to say so, I have approached my task 
rather in the spirit of Fitzgerald than of Bohn. 

The gem on the title, representing a votive 
offering to Hermes, the god of Worldly Wisdom, 
is from a fine paste in the British Museum of 
the best period of Greek glyptic art. I have to 
thank Mr. Cecil Smith of that Institution for 
kind advice in the selection. 

Let me conclude these prefatory words with 
a piece of advice as oracular as my original : 
When reading this little book for the first time, 
read only fifty maxims and then stop for the 


a 2 


II est si concis si rompu et si estrangement coupe qu'il 
semble qu'il ait pris I'obscurite a tasche : aussi le Lecteur 
a besoin d'en deuiner le sens & souvent quand il I'a compris 
il trouve qu'il s'est estudie a faire une 6nigme d'une chose 
fort commune. 

F. VAN Aerssens, Voyage (TEspagne, 1667, p. 

II a beaucoup d'elevation, de subtilite, de force et meme 
de bon sens : mais on ne sait le plus souvent ce qu'il veut 
dire, et il ne le sait pas peut-etre lui-meme. ^uelques-uns 
de ses Ouvrages ne semblent etre fait, que pour n'etre 
point entendus. 

Bouhour's Entretiem d'Arute et eT Eugene, 167 1, 
p. 203. 

Luha de Padilla, a Lady of great Learning, and Countess 
of Aratida, was in like manner angry with the famous 
Gratian upon his publishing his Treatise of the Discrete, 
wherein she fancied that he had laid open those Maxims 
to common Readers, which ought only to be reserved for 
the knowledge of the Great. These Objections are 
thought by many of so much weight that they often defend 


the above -mention'd Authors by affirming they have 
affected such an Obscurity in their Style and Manner of 
Writing, that tho' every one may read their Works there 
will be but very few who can comprehend their Meaning. 
The Spectator^ No. 379 (1712). 

En cherchant toujours I'dnergie et le sublime il devient 
outre et se perd dans les mots. Gracian est aux bons 
moralistes ce que Don guichotte est aux vrais heros. lis 
ont I'un et I'autre un faux air de grandeur qui en impose 
aux sots et qui fait rire les sages. 

Abbe Desfontaines, 1745. 
Que de elogios no se deben al autor del Criticon ! En 
medio de las antitesis, paronomasias y toda la metralla culta 
es una de las obras mas recomendables de nuestra literatura 
por la felicidad de la invencion, la inagotable riqueza de 
imaginacion y de sales, por la viveza de sus pinturas y por 
la gracia, soltura y naturalidad del estilo. 

Don Manuel Silvela, Biblioteca selecta de 
literatura espanola (1819). 

Si hubiese Gracian procedido con mas sobriedad en el 
uso de estos juegos y conceptos { qual es el escritor de su 
tiempo de tantos dotes y caudal nativo para ser el mas 
fecondo y elegante, sabiendo, como lo manifesto, en donde 
estaban las delicadezas y los donaires, esto es, lo amargo, lo 
dulce, lo picante, lo salado de la lengua castellana ? 

Don Antonio Capmany, Teatro de la elocuencia 
espanola^ tomo v. 

The Ordculo Manual has been more used than any other 
of the author's works. It is intended to be a collection of 
maxims of general utility, but it exhibits good and bad 
precepts, sound judgments, and refined sophisms, all con- 
founded together. In this work Gracian has not forgotten 



to inculcate his practical principles of Jesuitism to be all 
things to all men (" hacerse a todos "), nor to recommend 
his favourite maxim, " to be common in nothing " (" en 
nada vulgar "), which, in order to be valid, would require a 
totally different interpretation from that which he has 
given it. Bouterwek. 

The person, however, who settled the character of 
culthmo and in some respects gave it an air of philosoph- 
ical pretension, was Baltazar Gracian, a Jesuit of Aragon, 
who lived between 1601 and 1658, exactly the period when 
the cultivated style took possession of Spanish prose and 
rose to its greatest consideration. 

G. TicKNOR, History of Span. Lit. iii. 222. 

Dabei ist es das Einzige seiner Art und nie ein anderes iiber 
denselben Gegenstand geschrieben worden j denn nur ein 
Individuum aus der feinsten aller Nationen, der spanischen, 
konnte es versuchen. . . . Dasselbe lehrt die Kunst derer 
AUesichbefliessigenund istdaherfiir Jedermann. Besonders 
aber ist es geeignet das Handbuch aller derer zu werden, die 
in der grossen Welt leben, ganz vorziiglich aber junger 
Leute, die ihr Gliick darin zu machen bemiiht sind und 
denen es mit Einem Mai und zum Voraus die Belehrung 
giebt die sie sonst erst durch lange Erfahrung erhalten. 

A. Schopenhauer, Litterarische Notiz -vor seiner 
UebersetTiung (183 1, published 1861). 

Avec beaucoup d 'esprit, d 'instruction & de facility il 
n'a rien produit qui puisse aujourd'hui soutenir I'examen de 
la critique la plus impartiale. 

PuiBUsquE, Histoire compare e des litter atures espagnole 
etfran^aise, 1843, i. p. 559. 

Gracian aurait pu etre un excellent ecrivain s'il n'avait 
pas voulu devenir un ecrivain extraordinaire, Doue d'une 


vaste erudition, d'un esprit fin, d'un talent profond 
d'observation, il etait n6 pour 6clairer son siecle } mais la 
vanite de devenir novateur corrompit son gout, en le port- 
ant a introduire dans la prose ce langage precieux, ces 
expressions alambiqu^es que Gongora avait introduit dans 
les vers. 

A. DE Backer, Bibliotheque des ecrl-vaim de la 
Compagnie de Jesus, 1869, s.v. Gracian. 

Asi como las maximas de Antonio Perez fueron muy 
populares entre cortesanos 6 doctos 6 ilustrados, asi 
espanoles como extranjeros, por aquella delicadeza especial 
de estilo, las del Padre Baltasar Gracian alcanzaron la 
misma estima por ese atildamiento en el decir : atildamiento 
que tenia en si un inexplicable atractivo, y que aunque algo 
partlcipaba del general culteranismo de la literatura 
espanola en aquel siglo, encerraba cierto buen gusto deslum- 
brador y lisonjero para el lector que se profundisimos 
conceptos preciaba con la fuerza de su ingenio aquellos. 

Don Adolfo de Castro, Obras escogidas de Filo- 
iofia, 1873, p. cviii. 

Taking the book, as a guide, especially for those who 
intend to enter public life, I have never chanced to meet 
with anything which seemed to me even distantly to ap- 
proach it ... It would possibly be rather difficult to dis- 
prove the thesis that the Spanish nation has produced the 
best maxims of practical wisdom, the best proverb, the 
best epitaph, and the best motto in the world. If I had to 
sustain it, I would point with reference to the first head to 
the Oraculo Manual. 

Sir M. E. Grant Duff on " Balthasar Gracian " 
in Fortnightly Re-view, March 1877. 


Some have found light in the sayings of Balthasar 
Gracian, a Spaniard who flourished at the end of the 
seventeenth century. ... I do not myself find Gracian 
much of a companion, though some of his aphorisms give 
a neat turn to a commonplace. 

J. MoRLEY on "Aphorisms," Studies, 1891, p. 86. 

, , 









I 2Df 98alt^a0ar (Sracian antJ i)i0 WiotH 

We may certainly say of Gracian what Heine 
by an amiable fiction said of himself : he was 
one of the first men of his century. For he 
was born 8th January 1601 N.S.^ atBelmonte,a 
suburb of Calatayud,in the kingdom of Aragon. 
Calatayud, properly Kalat Ayoub, "Job's 
Town," is nearly on the site of- the ancient 
Bilbilis, Martial's birthplace. As its name 
indicates, it was one of the Moorish settle- 
ments, and nearly one of the most northern. 
By Gracian's time it had again been Christian 
and Spanish for many generations, and Gracian 
himself was of noble birth. For a Spaniard of 

^ The ordinary authorities vary between 1594 and 1604. 
I follow Latassa y Ortin, B'tblioteca nueva de los escritores 
Aragoneses, Pamplona, 1799, iii. 267 seq., practically the 
only original source for Gracian's life and works. 


noble birth only two careers were open, arms 
and the Church. In the seventeenth century 
arms had yielded to the cassock, and Balthasar 
and his three brothers all took orders. Felipe, 
his eldest, joined the order of St. Francis ; the 
next brother, Pedro, became a Trinitarian dur- 
ing his short life ; and the third, Raymundo, 
became a Carmelite.^ Balthasar himself tells 
us {jigudeza, c. xxv.) that he was brought up in 
the house of his uncle, the licentiate Antonio 
Gracian, at Toledo, from which we may gather 
that both his father and his mother, a Morales, 
died in his early youth. He joined the Com- 
pany of Jesus in 1619, when in its most flourish- 
ing state, after the organising genius of Acqua- 
viva had given solid form to the bold counter- 
stroke of Loyola to the Protestant Revolution. 
The Ratio Stuaiorum was just coming into full 
force, and Gracian was one of the earliest men 
in Europe to be educated on the system which 
has dominated the secondary education of 
Europe almost down to our own days. This 
point is of some importance, we shall see, in 
considering Gracian's chief work. 

Once enrolled amongthe ranks of the Jesuits, 
the individual disappears, the Jesuit alone 
remains. There is scarcely anything to 

1 Gracian mentions his brothers in his Agudeza. 


record of Gracian's life except that he was a 
Jesuit, and engaged in teaching what passes 
with the Order for philosophy and sacred litera- 
ture, and became ultimately Rector of the Jesuit 
College at Tarragona. His great friend was 
Don Vincencio Juan de Lastanosa, a dilettante 
of the period, who lived at Huesca,andcollected 
coins, medals, and other archaeological bric-a- 
brac. Gracian appears to have shared his tastes, 
for Lastanosa mentions him in his description, 
of his own cabinet. A long correspondence 
with him was once extant and seen by Latassa, 
who gives the dates and places where the letters 
were written. From these it would seem that 
Gracian moved about considerably from Madrid 
to Zarogoza, and thence to Tarragona. From 
another source we learn that Philip III. often 
had him to dinner to provide Attic salt to the 
royal table. He preached, and his sermons 
were popular. In short, a life of prudent 
prosperity came to an end when Balthasar 
Gracian, Rector of the Jesuit College at Tarra- 
gona, died there 6th December 1658, at the 
age of nearly fifty-eight years. 

Of Gracian's works there is perhaps more to 
say even while leaving for separate considera- 
tion that one which is here presented to the 
English reader and forms his chief claim to 


attention. Spanish literature was passing into 
its period of swagger, a period that came to all 
literatures of modern Europe after the training 
in classics had given afresh the sense of style. 
The characteristic of this period in a literature 
is suitably enough the appearance of "conceits" 
<^ or elaborate and far-fetched figures of speech. 
The process began with Antonia Guevara, 
author of El Libra Aureo, from which, according 
to some, the English form of the disease known 
as Euphuism was derived. But it received a 
futher impetus from the success of the stilo 
culto of Gongora in poetry.^ Gongorism 
drove "conceit" to its farthest point : artifi- 
ciality of diction could go no farther in verse : 
it was only left for Gracian to apply it to 

He did this for the first time in 1630 in his 
first work, El Heroe, This was published, like 
most of his other works, by his lifelong friend 
Lastanosa, and under the name of Lorenzo 
Gracian, a supposititious brother of Gracian's, 
who, so far as can be ascertained, never existed. 
The whole of El Heroe exists, in shortened 

1 On Gongora and his relation to Culthmo see 
Ticknor, Hht. Span. Lit. iii. 18 seq. j also Appendix G, 
" On the origin of Cultismo." Ticknor is, however, some- 
what prejuced against any form of Culthmo. 


form, in the Oraculo Manual?- The form, 
however, is so shortened that it would be diffi- 
cult to recognise the original primores, as they 
are called, of El Heroe. Yet it is precisely in 
the curtnessof the sentences that the peculiarity 
of the stilo culto consists. Generally elaborate 
metaphor and far-fetched allusions go with 
long and involved sentences of the periodic 
type. But with Gracian the aim is as much 
towards shortness as towards elaboration. The 
embroidery is rich but the jacket is short, as he 
himself might have said. As for the subject- 
matter, the extracts in the Oraculo will suffice 
to give some notion of the lofty ideal or 
character presented in El Heroe, the ideal 
indeed associated in the popular mind with the 
term hidalgo. 

A later book, El Discrete, first published in 
1647, gives the counterpoise to El Heroe hj 
drawing an ideal of the prudent courtier as 
contrasted with the proud and spotless hidalgo. 
This too is fully represented in the book before 
us, but the curtailment is still more marked 

1 See Notes to Maxims xxvi, xxxviii, xl, xlii, xliv, Ivi, 
Ixiii, Ixv, Ixvii, xciv, xcviii, cvi, cxxvii. 

'•^ See Notes to Maxims ii, xx, xxii, xxv, xHx, li, 
liii, Iv, Ivi, lix, Ixix, Ixxi, Ixxvi, Ixxxvii, cxxii, cxxvii, 
cclxxvii, ccxcv. 


than in the case of El Heroe. There is evi- 
dence that Gracian wrote a similar pair of 
contrasts, termed respectively El Galante 
and El Varon Atento^ which were not pub- 
lished but were incorporated in the Oraculo 
Manual by Lastanosa. The consequences of 
this utilisation of contrasts will concern us 

Reverting to Gracian's works somewhat 
more in their order, his eloge of Ferdinand, the 
Magus of Columbus' epoch, need not much 
detain us. It is stilted and conventional and 
does not betray lAich historical insight. 
Gracian's Agudexa y Arte de Ingenio is of 
more importance and interest as the formal 
exposition of the critical principles of Cultismo. 
It is concerned more with verse than prose 
and represents the Poetics of Gongorism. A 
curious collection of flowers of rhetoric in 
Spanish verse could be made from it. Of 
still more restricted interest is the Comulgador 
or sacred meditations for holy communion. I 
do not profess to be a judge of this class of 
literature, if literature it can be called, but the 
fact that the book was deemed worthy of an 
English translation as lately as 1876 seems to 
show that it still answers the devotional needs 
of Catholics. It has a personal interest for 


Gracian, as it was the only book of his that 
appeared under his own name. 

There remains only to be considered, besides 
the Oraculo Manual, Gracian's El Criticon, a 
work of considerable value and at least historic 
interest which appeared in the three parts 
dealing with Youth, Maturity, and Old Age 
respectively during the years 1650-53. This 
is a kind of philosophic romance or allegory 
depicting the education of the human soul. A 
Spaniard named Critilo is wrecked on St. 
Helena, and there finds a sort of Man Friday,^ 
whom he calls Andr^jiio. Andrenio, after 
learning to communicate with Critilo, gives him 
a highly elaborate autobiography of his soul 
from the age of three days or so. They then 
travel to Spain, where they meet Truth, Valour, 
Falsehood, and other allegorical females and 
males, who are labelled by Critilo for Andrenio's 
benefit in the approved and frigid style of 
the allegorical teacher. Incidentally, how- 
ever, the ideals and aspirations of the Spaniard 
of the seventeenth century are brought out, 
and from this point of view the book derives 

^ It is not impossible that the English translation of 
The Crit'ick by Rycaut, 168 1, may have suggested the 
Friday incidents of Robinson Crusoe, which was intended to 
be a more didactic book than it looks. 


the parallel with the Pilgrim's Progress which 
Ticknor had made for it.^ It is certainly one of 
the most characteristic products of Spanish 
literature, both for style and subject-matter. 

Nearly all these works of Gracian were 
translated into most of the cultured languages 
of Europe, English not excepted.^ Part of this 
ecumenical fame was doubtless due to the fact 
that Gracian was a Jesuit, and brethren of his 
Order translated the works of one of whom the 
Order was justly proud. But this explanation 
cannot altogether account for the wide spread 
of Gracian's works, and there remains a deposit 
of genuine ability and literary skill involved in 
most of the works I have briefly referred to — 
ability and skill of an entirely obsolete kind 
nowadays, but holding a rank of their own in 
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when 
didacticism was all the rage. It is noteworthy 
that the Testimonia I have collected for the 
most part pass over the Oraculo, the only work at 
which a modern would care to cast a second 
glance, and go into raptures over El Criticon 
and its fellows, or the reverse of raptures on 

1 Ticknor also suggests that the Criticon was derived 
from the Euphormion of Barclay, the author of Argenis. 

2 See the details in the Bibliographical Appendix to this 


Graclan's style, which after all was the most 
striking thing about his works. 

That style reaches its greatest perfection in 
the Oraculo Manual, to which we 'might at 
once turn but for a preliminary inquiry which 
it seems worth while to make. It is a book of 
maxims as distinguished from a book of aphor- 
isms, and it is worth while for several reasons 
inquiring into maxims in general and maxim 
literature in particular before dealing with 
what is probably the most remarkable specimen 
of its class. 

Before, however, doing this we may close 
this section of our- introductory remarks by 
"putting in," as the lawyers say, the Latin 
inscription given by Latassa from the foot of 
the portrait of Gracian, which once stood in 
the Jesuit College at Calatayud, a portrait of 
which, alas ! no trace can now be found. The 
lines sum up in sufficiently forcible Latin all 
that need be known of Balthasar Gracian and 
his works. 














II 2Df Maxims 

Many men have sought to give their views 
about man and about life in a pithy way ; a 
few have tried to advise men in short sentences 
what to do in the various emergencies of life. 
The former have written aphorisms, the latter 
maxims. Where the aphorism states a fact 
of human nature, a maxim advises a certain 
course of action. The aphorism is written 
in the indicative, the maxim in an imperative 
mood.i "Life is interesting if not happy," 

^ Not to be misleading, I may mention that Gracian's 
are generally in the infinitive. 


is an aphorism, of Professor Seely's, I believe. 
"Ascend a step to choose a friend, descend 
a step to choose a wife," is a maxim of Rabbi 
Meir, one of the Doctors of the Talmud. 

Now it is indeed curious how few maxims 
have ever been written. Wisdom has been 
extolled on the house-tops, but her practical 
advice seems to have been kept secret. Tab 
ing our own literature, there are extremely 
few books of practical maxims, and not a single 
one of any great merit. Sir Walter Raleigh's 
Cabinet Council^ Penn's Maxims, and Chester- 
field's Letters almost exhaust the list, and the 
last generally contains much more than mere 
maxims. Nor are they scattered with any pro- 
fusion through books teeming with knowledge 
of life, the galaxy of English novels. During 
recent years extracts of their " beauties " have 
been published in some profusion — Wit and 
Wisdom of Beaconsjield ; Wise, Witty, and 
Tender Sayings of George Eliot ; Extracts from 
Thackeray, and the rest — but the crop of practi- 
cal maxims to be found among them is extremely 
scanty. Aphorisms there are in plenty, especially 
in George Eliot, but he that is doubtful what 
course to pursue in any weighty crisis would 
wofully waste his time if he sought for advice 
from the novelists. 


Nor are the moralists more instructive in 
this regard. Bacon's Essays leave with one 
the impression of fulness of practical wisdom. 
Yet, closely examined, there is very little 
residue of practical advice left in his pregnant 
sayings. Even the source of most of this kind 
of writing, the Biblical book of Proverbs, fails 
to answer the particular kind of test I am at 
present applying. However shrewd some of 
them are, startling us with the consciousness 
how little human nature has changed, it is 
knowledge of human nature that they mainly 
supply. When we ask for instruction how 
to apply that knowledge we only get varia- 
tions of the theme " Fear the Lord." Two 
thousand years of experience have indeed 
shown that the Fear or Love of the Lord 
forms a very good foundation for practical 
wisdom. But it has to be supplemented by 
some such corollary as " Keep your powder 
dry" before it becomes of direct service in 
the conduct of life. 

It is indeed because of the unpractical 
nature of practical maxims that they have 
been so much neglected. You must act in 
the concrete, you can only maximise in 
general terms. Then, again, maxims can only 
appeal to the mind, to the intellect : the 


motive force of action is the will, the temper- 
ament. As Disraeli put it : " The conduct of 
men depends on the temperament, not upon a 
bunch of musty maxims " [Henrietta Temple). 
It is only very distantly that a maxim can stir 
the vague desire that spurs an imitative will. 
True, at times we read of men whose whole 
life has been coloured by a single saying. 
But these have generally been more appeals 
to the imagination, like Newman's " Securus 
judicat orbis terrarum," or the " Heu ! fuge 
crudeles terras, fuge litus avarum," which had 
so decisive an effort on Savonarola's life. It 
is rare indeed that a man's whole life is tinged 
by a single practical maxim like Sir Daniel 
Gooch, who was influenced by his father's 
advice, " Stick to one thing." 

Perhaps one of the reasons that have led 
literary persons to neglect the Maxim as a 
literary form has been their own ignorance of 
Action and, still more, their exaggerated 
notions of its difficulties and complexities. 
Affairs are not conducted by aphorisms : war 
is waged by a different kind of Maxims from 
those we are considering. Yet after all there 
must be some general principles on which 
actions should be conducted, and one would 
think they could be determined. Probably 


the successful men ot action are not suffi- 
ciently self-observant to know exactly on what 
their success depends, and, if they did, they 
would in most cases try to " keep it in the 
family," like their wealth or their trade secrets. 

And perhaps after all they are right who 
declare that action has little to do with intel- 
lect, and much with character. To say the 
truth, one is not impressed with the intellectual 
powers of the millionaires one meets. The 
shadiest of journalists could often explain their 
own doings with more point than they. Yet 
there are surely intellectual qualifications re- 
quired for affairs : the Suez Canal must have 
required as great an amount of research, 
emendation, sense of order, and organisation as, 
say, the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum. But 
there is no such punishment for slovenly 
scholarship in action as there is in letters. 
The Suez Canal can be dug only once : 
Lucretius or Latin inscriptions can be edited 
over and over again. Altogether we need not 
be surprised if the men of action cannot put 
the principles of action into pointed sentences 
or maxims. 

And if men of action cannot, it is not sur- 
prising that men of letters do not. For they 
cannot have the interest in action and its 


rewards which is required for worldly success, 
or else they would not be able to concentrate 
their thoughts on things which they consider 
of higher import. To a man of letters the 
world is the devil, or ought to be if he is to 
have the touch of idealism which gives colour 
and weight to his words. How then is he to 
devote his attention to worldly wis'dom and 
the maxims that are to teach it ? It is 
characteristic in this connection that the 
weightiest writer of maxims in our language 
is Bacon, who attempted to combine a career 
of affairs and of thought, and spoilt both by 
so doing. 

It is perhaps due to the subtle and all- 
embracing influence of Christianity on modern 
civilisation that this divorce between idealism 
and the world has come about. The strenuous 
opposition to the world among earnest Christians 
has led to their practical withdrawal from it. 
Just as the celibacy of the clergy meant 
that the next generation was to be deprived 
of the hereditary influence of some of the 
purest spirits of the time, so the opposition of 
Christianity to the world has brought it about 
that the world has been un-Christian. Only 
one serious attempt has been made to bridge 
the chasm. The idee mere of Jesuitism was 


to make the world Christian by Christians 
becoming worldly. It was doubtless due to 
the reaction against the over-spiritualisation 
of Christianity pressed by the Protestant 
Reformation, but its practical result has been 
to make the Jesuit a worldly Christian. The 
control of the higher education of Europe by 
the Jesuits has tended, on the other hand, to 
make society more Christian. If then we 
were to look for an adequate presentation of 
worldly wisdom touched with sufficient ideal- 
ism to make it worthy of a man of letters, we 
should look for it from a Jesuit, or from one 
trained among the Jesuits. 

After all this elaborate explanation why so 
few maxims have been composed it may seem 
contradictory to give as a further and final 
reason because so many exist — under another 
form. For what are the majority of proverbs 
but maxims under another name, or rather 
maxims without the name of their author ? We 
say of proverbs, indeed, that they arise among 
the people, but it is one definite individual 
among the people that gives them the piquant 
form that makes them proverbial. It was, we 
may be sure, a definite English gaffer who first 
said, "Penny wise, pound foolish." If we 
knew his name, we should call it a maxim ; as 


his name is unknown it ranks as a proverb. 
In this connection the Talmudic proverbs and 
maxims are of great interest. Owing to the 
worthy Rabbinic principle, "Say a thing in 
the name of the man who said it," we can in 
almost all cases trace Talmudic proverbs to 
their authors ; or, in other words, Talmudic 
proverbs remain maxims. There is only one 
analogous case in English ; a few of Benjamin 
Franklin's maxims, e.g, "Three removes are as 
good as a fire," ^ have become proverbs. 

The abundance of proverbs is extraordinary. 
There is a whole bibliography devoted to the 
literature of proverbs (Duplessis, Bibliographie 
Paremiologique, Paris, 1847), and this needs 
nowadays a supplement as large again as the 
original (partly supplied by the bibliographical 
Appendix of Haller, Altspanische Sprichworter^ 
1883). Indeed in the multitude of proverbs 
consists the greatest proof of their uselessness 
as guides to action, for by this means we get 
proverbs at cross purposes. Thus take the one 
I have just referred to, " Penny wise, pound 
foolish," which has a variant in the proverb, 
" Do not spoil the ship for a ha'porth of tar." 

1 Most persons have heard the cynical continuation of 
a modern : "Three fires are as good as a failure and three 
failures are as good as a fortune." 


A man who was hesitating as to the amount or 
expense he would incur in any undertaking 
would be prompted by these sayings to be lav- 
ish. But then how about the proverb, " Take 
care of the pence and the pounds will take 
care of themselves " ? Between the two pro- 
verbs he would come to the ground, and if he 
has the vovs to decide between them, he does 
not need the proverbs at all. 

Hence it is perhaps that the nation that is 
richest in proverbs is the one that has proved 
itself among European peoples the least wise 
in action. To the Spaniards has been well ap- 
plied the witticism about Charles II. : " They 
never said a foolish thing and never did a wise 
one." Certainly if proverbs be a proof of wis- 
dom the Spaniards have given proofs in abun- 
dance. Don Quixote is full of them and the 
Spanish collections are extraordinarly rich. 
Now the nation that can produce good pro- 
verbs should be able to produce good maxims ; 
hence we should expect the best book of 
maxims to emanate from a Spaniard. 

One characteristic of both these forms of prac- 
tical wisdom is their artificiality. One has to 
think twice before the point of a proverb or a 
maxim is perfectly clear. "The early bird 
catches the worm " seems at first sight as meaning- 


less a proposition as "There are milestones on 
the Dover Road." Hence itiswhen a literature 
is passing through its artificial stage that maxims 
would naturally appear. So that it was clearly- 
preordained that when the book of maxims 
should appear it would be by a Jesuit, so as to 
be worldly yet not too worldly ; by a Spaniard, 
so that it should have the proverbial ring ; and 
during the prevalence of cultismo, so that it 
should have the quaintness to attract attention. 

Ill m t|)e " 2DracuIo i^anual " 

Having thus proved a priori that the ideal 
book of maxims was destined to be the Oraculo 
Manual oi Balthasar Gracian, let us proceed to 
prove our proof, as schoolboys do with their 
sums. That it is the best book of maxims is a 
foregone conclusion, because there is none 
other. Schopenhauer, who translated the 
book, observes that there is nothing like it in 
German, and there is certainly none approaching 
it in English, and if France or Italy can pro- 
duce its superior, it is strange that its fame has 
remained so confined to its native country. 

Not that there are not books teaching the art of 
self-advancement in almost all languages. The 
success of Dr. Smiles's volume on Self-Help is a 


sufficient instance of this.^ Curiously enough, 
Dr. Smiles's book has had its greatest success in 
Italy, where it has given rise to quite a lettera- 
tura selfelpista, as the Italians themselves call 
it. Or rather not curiously, for if you wish to 
find the most unromantic set of ideals nowa- 
days you must go search among the Romance 

Gracian does not, however, compete with Dr. 
Smiles. He does not deal with Brodweisheit \ 
he assumes that the vulgar question of bread 
and butter has been settled in favour of his 
reader. He may be worldly, but he is thinking 
of the great world. He writes for men with a 
position and how to make the most of it. Nor 
is the aim he puts before such persons an en- 
tirely selfish one. " The sole advantage of 
power is that you can do more good " is the 
only rational defence of ambition, and Gracian 
employs it (Max. cclxxxvi). 

Indeed the tone of the book is exceptionally 
high. It is impossible to accuse a man of any 
meanness who is the author of such maxims as — 

" One cannot praise a man too much who 
speaks well of them who speak ill of him " (clxii). 

1 One of our public men, I have been told, is known 
among his friends by the sobriquet of " Self-help by 


^B " When to change the conversation ? When 

^H they talk scandal " (ccl). 

^H "In great crises there is no better companion 

^H than a bold heart " (clxvii). 

^B "The secret of long life : lead a good life " 

^f *'Be able to boast that if gallantry, gener- 
osity, and fidelity were lost in the world men 
would be able to find them again in your own 
breast " (clxv). 

" A man of honour should never forget what 
he is because he sees what others are" 

And there are whole sections dealing with 
such topics as Rectitude (xxix), Sympathy with 
great Minds (xliv), a genial Disposition (Ixxix), 
and the like. 

Not that he is without the more subtle de- 
vices of the worldly wise. One could not wish 
to have anything more cynical or stinging than 
the following : — 

" Find out each man's thumbscrew " (xxvi). 

" A shrewd man knows that others when they 
seek him do not seek him^ but their advantage 
in him and by him " (cclii). 

" The truth, but not the whole truth " 


" Keep to yourself the final touches of your 
art " (ccxii). 

" Do not take payment in politeness " (cxci). 

" Have a touch of the trader " (ccxxxii). 

" Think with the few and speak with the 
many" (xliii). 

" Never have a companion who casts you in 
the shade " (clii). 

" Never become paradoxical in order to avoid 
the trite '* (cxliii).i 

" Do not show your wounded finger " (cxlv). 

The characteristic of the book is this com- 
bination or rather contrast of high tone and 
shrewdness. Gracian is both wisely worldly 
and worldly wise. After all, there does not 
seem to be any inherent impossibility in the 
combination. There does not seem any radical 
necessity why a good man should be a fool. One 
always has a certain grudge against Thackeray 
for making his Colonel Newcome so silly at 
times, though perhaps the irony, the pathos, 
the tragedy of the book required it. As a 
matter of fact the holiest of men have been 
some of the shrewdest, for their friends at least, 
if not for themselves. 

The explanation of the combination in 

* Mr. Oscar Wilde's attention may be respectfully called 
to this maxim. 


Gracian is simple enough. He was a Jesuit, 
and the Jesuits have just that combination ot 
high tone and worldly wisdom as their raison 
d'etre. And in the case of the Oraculo the 
mixture was easily effected by Gracian or his 
friend Lastanosa. For Gracian had written 
at least two series of works in which this con- 
trast was represented by separate books. Two 
of these describing the qualities of the Hero 
and the Prudent Man (-£"/ Heroe and El Dis- 
creto) were published and are represented in the 
Oraculo.^ Two others dealing with the Gal- 
lant and the Cautious Man {El Galante and 
El Varon Atento) are referred to by Lastanosa 
in the preface to El Discreto, and are also 
doubtless represented in the book before us. 
One may guess that the section on Highminded- 
ness (cxxviii) or on Nobility of Feeling (cxxxi) 
comes from El Galante, while " Better mad 
with the rest of the world than wise alone " 
(cxxxiii) smacks of El Varon Atento. At times 
we get the two tones curiously intermingled : 
" Choose an heroic ideal " (Ixxv) seems at first 
sight a noble sentiment, but Gracian goes on to 
qualify it by adding, " but rather to emulate 
than to imitate." 

The modernness of the tone is the thing 
^ See iupra^ p. xxi. and notes. 


that will strike most readers apart from these 
contrasts. Here and there one may be struck 
by an archaic note. " Never compete " would 
scarcely be the advice of a worldly teacher 
nowadays. But on the whole there is a tone 
of modern good society about the maxims 
which one would scarcely find in contempor- 
ary English works like Peacham's, or even in 
contemporary French authors like Charron. The 
reason is that modern society is permeated by 
influences which Gracian himself represented. 
The higher education of Europe for the last 
two and a half centuries has been in the hands 
of Jesuits or in schools formed on the Ratio 
Studiorum. And Society in the stricter sense 
traces from the H6tel Rambouillet, where one- 
half the influence was Spanish. Gracian thus 
directly represents the tone of the two Societies 
which have set the tone of our society of 
to-day, and it is no wonder therefore if he is 

Even in his style there is something of a 
modern epigrammatic ring. At times there is 
the euphuistic quaintness, e.g. " One must pass 
through the circumference of time before 
arriving at the centre of opportunity." But as 
a rule the terseness and point of the maxim 
approximate to the modern epigram. "El 


escusarse antes de ocaslon es culparse " might be 
both the source and the model of ^i s^ excuse 
s^ accuse. The terseness is indeed excessive and 
carried to Tacitean extremes. " A poco saber 
camino real," " Ultima felicidad el filosofar," 
"Harto presto, si bien." Gracian jerks out 
four or five words where a popular preacher 
would preach a sermon. Yet I cannot agree 
with the writers who call Eim obscure. He 
is one of the writers that make you think 
before you grasp his meaning, but the 
meaning is there, and put plainly enough, 
only tersely and very often indirectly, after 
the manner of proverbs. There is indeed no 
doubt that he and his predecessors were in- 
fluenced by the form of the Spanish proverb in 
drawing up aphorisms and maxims. I say pre- 
decessors, for aphorismic literature at any rate 
was no novelty in Spain. Among the long list 
of books on aphorisms possessed by the late Sir 
William Stirling-Maxwell, and still at Keir, 
there are fully a dozen Spanish ones who pre- 
cede Gracian(Hernando Diaz,Lopez de Corelas, 
and Melchior de Santa Cruz are the most im- 
portant, though the latter is more full of anec- 
dotage). Among them is a book of Aforismos 
by Antonio Perez, whose Relaciones has been 
the chief means of blackening Philip II. 's 


character.^ The former are undoubtedly of the 
same style as Gracian, and probably influenced 
him, though, as they are aphorisms and not 
maxims, I have not been able to quote 
parallels in the Notes. Thus " Una obra vale 
millares de gra9ias " (Perez, Afor. i. 198) has 
the same proverbial ring. It is curious to see 
Lytton's "The pen is mightier than the sword " 
anticipated by Perez' " La pluma corta mas 
que espadas afiladas" {ibid. 199), or Voltaire's 
" Speech was given us to conceal our thoughts " 
in Perez' "Las palabras, vestido de los con- 
jeptos " (ii. 130). This last example has all 
Gracian's terseness, while Perez' "Amigos 
deste Siglo, rostros humanos, cora9ones de 
fieras " ^ (ii. 7 1 ) has both terseness and cynicism. 
Certainly the only other work in Spanish or 
any other literature preceding Gracian on any- 
thing like the same lines is this book of 
Jforismos by Antonio Perez. 

It is somewhat of a question, to my mind, 
how far Gracian was the author of the final 
form of the maxims as we have them in the 
Oraculo. Those taken from El Heroe and 

^ On Perez see Mr, Froude's paper in his Spanish Story 
of tke Armada. Perez was over in England and was of 
the Sidney set. 

2 "Friends nowadays, human faces, hearts of brutes.' 


El Discreto differ from their originals with great 
advantage. They are terser, more to the point 
and less euphuistic. Now the Address to the 
Reader has all these qualities, and we may assume 
was written by its signatory, Don Vincencio 
de Lastanosa. It is just possible that we owe 
to him the extreme terseness and point of the 
majority of the maxims of the Oraculo Manual, 
It must not, however, be assumed that they 
are all as pointed and epigrammatic as those 
I have quoted. Gracian seems advisedly to 
have imbedded his jewels in a duller setting. 
At times he vies with the leaders of the great 
sect of the Platitudinarians, and he can be as 
banal as he is brilliant. Even as it is, his very 
brilliancy wearies, and after fifty maxims or so 
one longs for a more fruity wisdom, a more 
digressive discussion of life like those learned, 
wise, and witty essays of Mr. Stevenson, which 
may some day take higher rank as literature 
than even his novels. 

Perhaps, after all, the weariness to v^^hich I 
refer may be due to the cautious tone of the 
book. To succeed one must be prudent \^ that 
is the great moral of the book, and \i so, does it 
seem worth while to succeed ? If life is to be 

^ The second title of the book is Arte de Prudencia^ 
which I have adopted as the main title of my version. 


denuded of the aleatory element, is it worth 
living? Well, Gracian meets you when in 
that temper too. It is indeed remarkable how 
frequently he refers to luck ; how you are to 
trust your luck, weigh your luck, follow youi 
luck, know your unlucky days, and so forth. 
Is all this a confession that after all life is too 
complex a game for any rules to be of much 
use ? Granted, but there is one thing certain 
about life, and that is put by Goethe in the 
lines which I, following Schopenhauer,^ have 
placed at the head of my translation. One must 
be either hammer or anvil in this world, and too 
great an excess of idealism only means that the 
unideal people shall rule the world. To guard 
against both extremes we have the paradoxical 
advice I have heard attributed to Mr. Ruskin, 
" Fit yourself for the best society, and then — 
never enter it." 

Whether any ideal person will learn to rule 
the world by studying Gracian's or any one 
else's maxims is somewhat more doubtful, for 
reasons I have given above in discussing pro- 
verbs. The man who can act on maxims can 
act without them, and so does not need them. 
And there is the same amount of contradiction 

^ Gracian was his favourite author j " Mein Gracian " 
he called him on one occasion {Memorabilien, p. 505). 


in maxims as in proverbs. Thus, to quote an 
example from the book before us, from Max. 
cxxxii it would seem best to keep back an 
intended gift : " long expected is highest 
prized " ; whereas from Max. ccxxxvi we learn 
that " the promptness of the gift obliges the 
more strongly." Which maxim are we to act 
upon ? That depends on circumstances, and 
the judgment that can decide on the circum- 
stances can do without the maxims. I cannot 
therefore promise success in the world to 
whomsoever may read this book ; otherwise 1 
should perhaps not have published it. 

But whether Gracian's maxims are true or 
useful scarcely affects their value. To the 
student of literature as such, the flimsiest senti- 
ment or the merest paradox aptly put is worth 
the sublimest truth ill expressed. And there 
can be little doubt that Gracian puts his points 
well and vigorously. I cannot hope to have 
reproduced adequately all the vigour and force 
of his style, the subtlety of his distinctions, or the 
shrewdness of his mother-wit. But enough, I 
hope, has emerged during the process of trans- 
lation to convince the reader that Gracian's 
Oraculo Manual has much wisdom in small 
compass and well put. 




The best bibliographical account of Gracian's works is 
that of Backer, Bibliotheque des ecri'vains de la Compagnie de 
Jesus, 1869, sub -voce. I have shortened the descriptions of 
the translations, etc., of the other works of Gracian, adding 
a few items from the British Museum Catalogue and 
other sources. The Oraculo Manual I have treated separately 
and more fully. 

A. Gracian's Works. 
I. El Heroe de Loren90 Gracian Infanzon. Dedicado al 

Rey N.S. En Huesca por Juan Nogues, 1637, 8vo. 
[Published by Don Vincencio Juan de Lastanosa. 

According to Latassa the first edition was published 

in Madrid, 1630. Other editions in Madrid, 1639 ; 

Barcelona, 1640 ; Amsterdam, 1659 (por Juan Blaeu)j 

also in the Biblioteca de autores espafioles, 1873, 

t. Ixv. 

French translation (i) by Gervais, medecin du 

roy, Paris, 1645 ; reprinted Amsterdam, 1659 j (2) by 

P. de Courbeville, Paris, 1725. 

Engliih translation (i) by Sir J. Skeffington, 

Lond. 1652 ; (2) from Courbeville's by a "gentleman 

of Oxford," Lond. 1726,] 


2. El politico Don Ferdinando el catolico de Lorenzo 

Gracian. Al excelentisimo Sefior Duque de Nochera. 
En Zaragoza, 1640, 120. 

[Published by Lastanosa. Reprinted Zaragoza, 
1641, 160 J Huesca, 1646, 120 ; Amsterdam, 1659. 

French translation (i) by M. de S. (Silhouette, 
Chancellor of the Due d'Orleans), Paris, 1720 ; re- 
printed 1730, and Amsterdam, 1731 ; (2) by P. de 
Courbeville, 1732, 120. 

German translation by D. G. von Lohenstein.] 

3. Agudeza y Acte de Ingenio en que se explican todos los 

modos y diferencias de conceptos. Madrid, 1642, 8vo. 

[Also published by Lastanosa. Other editions at 
Huesca, 1646 and 1648 (the latter with Salinas' 
translation of Martial). 

Italian translation by a Genoese who passed it off 
as his own [Journ. des Sa-vants, 1696, p. 333).] 

4. El Discrete. Dedicado al serenlsimo Senor Don Baltasar 

Carlos de Austria. En Huesca por Juan Nogues, 
1645, 8vo. 

[Published by Lastanosa. Republished Barcelona, 
1647, i^°> Brussels, 1665, 120 ; Amsterdam, 1665, 
12°; alsoinBibliotecadeautoresespanoles, i873,t.lxv. 

French translation by De Courbeville j 2nd ed. 
Rotterdam, 1729. 

English, " The Compleat Gentleman," by T. Sal- 
keld ; 2nd ed. London, 1730 ; 3rd, Dublin, 1760. 

German, Der VoUkommene Mensch. Augsburg, 
1729, 8vo, from the French. 

Italian, L' Uomo Universale. Venice, 1725, from 
the French. 

Polish by Brzostowski. Wilna, 1762, from the 


5. El Criticon. Primera Parte en la Primavera de la Ninez 

yen el Estio de la Juventad. En Madrid, 1650, 8vo 
— Segunda Parte Juyziosa y cortesana Filosofia en 
el Otono de la Varonil Edad. En Huesca, 1653, 8vo 
— Tercera Parte en el Invierno de la Vejez. En 
Huesca, 1653, 8vo. 

[Reprinted Madrid, 1658, 8vo. 

English, Pt. I., by P. Rycaut. Lond. 168 1. 

French translation by Maunony. Paris, 1696- 

1708, 120. Reprinted at La Hague, 1708, 1723, 
1734. ; Rouen, 1709 ; Geneva, 1725. 

Italian, by G. P. Cattaneo. Venice, 1685, 1698, 

1709, 1720, 1745. 

Dutch, by M. Smallegange. 'S Gravenhage, 1691, 

German, by C. Gottschling. Frankfurt, 1710; 
Halle, 1721.] 

6. Oraculo Manual. See infra B. 

7. El Comulgador : varias meditaciones para ... la sacrada 

communion. Madrid, 1655, 120. 

[Reprinted Zaragoza, 1655, 160 j Amberes, 1725, 
4to } Valencia, 1736, 12^ ; Madrid, 1757, 8vo, 1788, 
160, 1826, 8vo } Paris, 1840, 240, 185 1, 180, 1854, 
180, 1857, 180, i860, 180. 

English translation by M. Monteiro, 1876, 8vo. 

French,hy Amelotde la Houssaie. Paris, 1693, 120. 

Italian, by Castro and Inviziati. 

German, anon. Frankfort, 1734? 8vo j reprinted 
Vienna, 1738; and Nuremberg, 175 1, with Appendix 
by W. Reithmeier, 1847. 

Latin, anon. Munster, 1750-52, 12°.] 

8. Obras de Lorenzo Gracian. Amberes, 1652, 4to. 

[Reprinted Madrid, 1664, 4to j Barcelona, 1667. 



4to ; Amberes, 1669, 4to ; Madrid, 1674, 4to ; Bar- 
celona, 1700, 4to (with four idylls Selvas de anc)-j-Am- 
beres, 1702,410, 1723, 4to ; Madrid, 1720, 4to 5 Bar- 
celona, 1734, 4to, 1748, 4to, 1757, 4toj Madrid 
1773, 4to — all in two vols. 
Latassa also mentions various poems and letters which 

are scattered about, some in MS. For El Varon Atento and 

El Galante see mpra p. xxii. 

B. Oraculo Manual. 

Early Spanish Bibliography is in a very bad state. 

One difficulty is that each of the smaller kingdoms 

of Spain seems to have had the right to reprint books 

published in any other division. We find this difficulty 

with the Edltio Princeps of the Oraculo Manual. Latassa 

states that it was first published in Huesca, Aragon, in 

1647, "Por Juan Nogues " (like most of Gracian's 

works). No copy of this edition is known to exist in 

any of the great libraries of Spain or other parts of 

Europe, and the earliest known is that contained in the 

British Museum with the following title : — 

Oracvlo / Manval y Arte / de Prvdencia / Sacada de los 

a / forismos que de discurren en / las obras de Lorenzo / 

Gracian. / Publicala D. Vi / cencio Juan de Lastanosa. 

/ Y la dedica / al Excelentissimo / Seiior D. Luis Men- 

dez / de Haro. Con licencia. En Madrid por Maria 

de Oiiiones ano de 1653. / [160 pp. in 240.] 

But in the Censor's licence to this there is a distinct 

reference to a previous edition with which it is said to 

correspond [" coresponde con el antes impresso . . . que 

otras vezes ha sido impresso "]. This confirms Latassa's 

date of 1647 for the ed. pr. But this makes it difficult 

to understand Lastanosa's reference to the twelve books of 

Gracian's, of which the Oraculo was the quintessence. 


Four only had been published by that time, and the two 
unpublished would make up only half a dozen. We must 
therefore leave the date of the ed. pr. a variable between 
1647 and 1653, to be fixed by the future Spanish 
Lowndes or Hazlitt. 

The Oraculo was reprinted at Amsterdam 1659, ^"^^ 
henceforth it appeared in all the editions of the Obrai. It 
is curious that it has never been reprinted separately in 
modern times in Spain, and can only be obtained in 
Biblioteca de autores espanoles, tomo Ixv. It has, however, 
been a book more honoured abroad than in its own country, 
as the following list of Translations, taken mainly from 
Grisebach and the British Museum Catalogue, will show : — 

I. Italian. 

1. Oracolo manuale, e Arte di Prudenza / Cavata dagl* 

Aforismi, chc si discorrono nell' Opre di Lorenzo 
Gratiano / Mandalo in Luce D. Vincenzo Giovanni 
de Lastanosa. Diretto alia Nobilta Venetiana e 
dedicato all' Illustr. & Eccellentiss. Sig. Leonardo 
Pesaro ... In Venetia mdclxxix. 

[Republished Venice, 1708, 17 18, 1790.] 

2. Huomo di Corte nuovamente tradotto dall' Abbate 

Franceso Tosques. Roma, 1698. 

[From the French. Republished Venice, 1730 j 
Naples, 1740, 1761.] 

II. French. 

I. L'homme de cour de Baltasar Gracian. Traduit & 
commente par le Sieur Amelot de la Houssaie, ci- 
devant Secretaire de I'Ambassade de France a Venise. 
Paris, 1684. 

[Reprinted La Hague, 1692 ; Lyons, 1693 ; Rot- 
terdam, 17 1 6, 1728 ; also editions in Paris, 
1691, 1702, 1732, 1765, 1808.] 


2. Maximes de Baltazar Gracien, traduites de I'Espagnol 
[par J. de Courbeville]. Paris, 1730. 

in. English. 

1. The / Courtier's / Oracle ; / or the / Art of Pruderice / 

. . . Written originally in Spanish / And now done 
into English. London, 1694. 

[From the French of Amelot de la Houssaie.] 

2. The Art of Prudence ; or a Companion for a Man of 

Sense. Made English . . and illustrated with the 
Sieur Amelot de la Houssaie's notes, by Mr. Savage. 
London, 1702. 

[Two more editions, 1705, 17 14. The book was 
simply a revision of the earlier translation.] 

IV. Latin. 

1. Balthas. Graciani, Hispani, Aulicus sive de prudentia 

civili et maxime aulica liber singularis olim hispanice 
conscriptus, postea et Gallice, Italice, Germanice 
editus, nunc ex Ameloti versione Latine redditus . . . 
Franc. Glarianus Meldenus, Constantiensis, recensuit, 
latine vertit . . . et notis illustravit. Accessit Joh. 
Gottl. Heineccii J.C. praefatio. Francofurti ad Via- 
drum MDCcxxxi. 

[A reprint at Vienna, 1750.] 

2. Hominis Aulici notum Graciani oraculum prudentiae, 

depromptum in sententiarum politicarum centurias 
III . . . Latinorum lingua loquens per interpretem 
P. A. Ulrich. 1734. 

V. Hungarian. 
I. Bolts 68 figyelmetes udvari ember. Irta Spanyol 
nyelven Gratzian B. Forditotta Nemetbiil Faludi F. 
. . . Posonyban, 1770, 177 1. 


2. Udvari Kato Vagy is Gratzian B. nak Faludi F. altal 
Magyarra forditatott CCC Makszimai .... 
Gyor'olt, 1790. 
[In verse.] 

VI. Polish. 
Baltazar Gracyan doskoiialacy dworskiego cztowjeka 
przez 300 maxym . . . Krakow, 1802. 
[By Count Sierakowski.] 

VII. German. 

1. L'Homme de cour ®bcr bev I^cutigc politifcljc VOelt- unb 

StaaiS'tOei^e f fiirgeftcQet von ^altljafar ©racian, ^is= 
paniern Uni) toegen fciner I]ol]en IDiirbe in unfre iiod)-- 
teutfdjc Spradje iiberfe^et ani^o aus bem (Original 
uermeliret, unb sum Jlnbernntal^I tjerausgegebcn con 3o^- 
Ccontjarb Sauter, J. U. D. ^rantffuttfj unb £eip3tg, 1687. 
[Pp. cxvm, 775, 240.] 

2. Balthasar Gracian's Homme de Cour, oder : Kluger 

Hof- und Weltmann, nach Mr. Amelot de la 
Houssaie seiner franzbsischen Version, in's Teutsche 
iibersetzet von Selintes [=C. Weissbach]. Nebst 
Herrn C. Thomasii judicio vom Gracian. Augsburg, 

3. Salttjafar (Sractans (Dracul ; b. t. Hegcin bcr Klugfjett. 

llns bem Spanifdjen von 21. S- ttl&Uet. 2 Sanbe. 
£cip3ig, 17 15-17 17. 

[Two thick volumes containing Spanish original, 

Germ, paraphrase, and elaborate notes. Went 

into a second edition in 1733.] 

4. Uomo di corte ober fluger ^of= txxib Weltmann. Uadb, bev 

3taltcnifd?en lleberfet5ung ins 5cutfcfjc iibcrfe^t [von 
€iivx^opi\ ^cinrtd? ^^r^isleben]. 2IItcnburg, 1723. 
[With the Italian text.] 


5. Die Kunft 3U leben ; DortrefpIid?e Regein eincs alien II>cIt= 

manncs furs mcnfd?Iidje Ceben. Uadj Balttiafat ©racian 
[oon K. £f. £}eybenreid}], Ceipjtg, 1786. 

6. Der ITlann oon JDelt, etngctoetht in bte (Sebeimniffe bcr 

Cebensflugt^eit, ein nad) Saltbafar ©racian frci bearbettetes 
ooUfianbig binterlaffenes ITlanuffript [oon K. ^. ^cybcns 
rddj], Ceip3ig, martini, 1803. 
[Reprinted Reutlingen, 1804.] 

7. Z)as fc^arse Snd; ober £ef;ren ber CebenstDetst;ett <Sradan's 

. . . 1826. 

8. tnfinnerfdjulc von B. ©racian. 2Ius bem Spanifdjen fibcrfc^t 

Don 5r. KoUc. Stuttgart, 1838. 

9. Saltl^afar ©ractan's ^anborafel unb Kunfi ber tOeltflugtjeit, 

trcu unb forgfditig uberfe^t von 2Irtf}ur Sdjopcntjaucr. 

Iladjgelaffenes ^anbfc^rift, £eip3ig, 1861. 

[Edited by Frauenstadt ; reprinted 1862, 1877. 
Another edition from the original MS. by 
Grisebach in the Reclam series, 1889.] 

VIII. Dutch. 
De Konst der Wysheit getrokken ujt de Spaensche van 
Gracian en nu vertaalt door M. Smallegange In's 
Gravenhage, mdcxcvi. 


i Everything is at its Acme ( Todo estd ya en 

su punto) . . ..... I 

ii Character and Intellect {Genio y ingenio) . i 

iii Keep Matters for a Time in Suspense {Lle-var 

sus cosas con suspencion) .... 2 

iv Knowledge and Courage {El saber y el •valor). z 

V Create a Feeling of Dependence (H^2!0-^g/)tf«^«) 3 

vi A Man at his Highest Point {Hombreen su punto) 3 
vii Avoid Victories over Superiors {Escusar •vkorias 

del patron) ...... 4 

viii To be without Passions [Hombre inapasion- 

able) 5 

ix Avoid the Faults of your Nation {Desmentir los 

achaques de su nacion) .... 5 

X Fortune and Fame [For tuna y Fama) . . 6 
xi Cultivate those who can teach you {Tratar 

con qulen se pueda aprender) ... 6 

xii Nature and Art {Naturale%a y Arte) . . 7 



xiii Act sometirties on Second Thoughts, sometimes 
on Firstlmpulse {Obrar deintencion,yasegunda 
y ya f rimer a) ...... 7 

xiv The Thing Itself and the Way it is done {La 

realidad ye el tnodo) ..... 8 

XV Keep Ministering Spirits {Tener higcnios 

auxillares) ...... 9 

xvi Knowledge and Good Intentions {Saber con 

recta mtencion). ..... 10 

xvii Vary the Mode of Action {Variar de tenor en 

el obrar) . . . . . . .10 

xviii Application and Ability {Aplicaciony Miner-va) 1 1 
xix Arouse no Exaggerated Expectations on 

entering {No entrar con sobrada expectacion) 1 1 
XX A Man of the Age {Hombre en su siglo) . .12 
xxi The Art of being Lucky {Arte para ser dichoso) 1 3 
xxii A Man of Knowledge to the Point {Hombre 

de plausibles noticias) . . . • ' 3 

xxiii Be Spotless {No tener algun desdoro) . .14 

xxiv Keep the Imagination under Control {Templar 

la imaginacion) , . . . -14 

XXV Know how to take a Hint {£uen ciuendedor) . 1 5 
xxvi Find out each Man's Thumbscrew {Hallarle 

su torcedor a cada uno) . . . • 1 5 

xxvii Prize Intensity more than Extent {Fagarse 

mas de Intenciones que de Extenciones) . .16 

xxviii Common in Nothing {En nada -vulgar) . . 16 
xxix A Man of Rectitude {Hombre de entereza) . 17 
XXX Have naught to do with Occupations of Ill- 
repute {No ha-zer profesion de empleos des- 
autorhados) , . . . .18 



xxxi Select the Lucky and avoid the Unlucky 
{Conocer los afortunados para la eleccion y los 
desdichados para la fuga) . . . .18 

xxxii Have the Reputation of being Gracious [Estar 

en opinion de ddr gusto) . . . • ^9 

xxxiii Know how to Withdraw [Saber abstraer) , 19 
xxxiv Know your strongest Point [Conocer su realce 

Rey) 20 

XXXV Think over Things, most over the most 
Important {Haszer concepto y mas de lo que 
import a mas) . . . . . .20 

xxxvi In Acting or Refraining, weigh your Luck 
( Tener tanteada su Fortuna^ para el proceder, 
para desempenarse) . . . '. .21 

xxxvii Keep a Store of Sarcasms, and know how 
to use them {Conocer y saber usar de las 
•varrillas) . . . . . .22 

xxxviii Leave your Luck while Winning [Saberse 

dexar ganando con la fortuna) . . -23 

xxxix Recognise when Things are ripe, and then 
enjoy them [Conocer las cosas en su punto, en 
su sa'zon y saber las lograr) . . . • ^3 

xl The Goodwill of People [Gracia de las geutes) 24 
xli Never Exaggerate [Nunca exagerar) . . 24. 
xlii Born to command [Del natural Imperio) . 25 

xliii Think with the Few and speak with the 

Many [Sentir con los menosy hablar con los mas) 25 
xliv Sympathy with great Minds [Simpatia con los 

grandes 'uarones) . . . . .26 

xlv Use, but do not abuse, Cunning [Usar^ no 

abusar de las rejiexas) . . . • ^7 


xlvi Master your Antipathies [Corregir su antipatia) 

xlvii Avoid "Affairs of Honour " {Hulr loi empeno) 

xlviii Be Thorough {Hombre con Rondos) 

xUx Observation and Judgment [Hombre juy%mo y 

notante) ...... 

1 Never lose Self-respect [Nunca perderse 
respeto a u mhmo) .... 

li Know how to Choose well {Hombre de buena 
eleccion) ..... 

lii Never be put out {Nunca descomponerse) 
liii Diligent and Intelligent {Diligentey inteligente) 
liv Know how to show your Teeth {Tener brios a 
lo cucrdo) ..... 

Iv Wait {Hombre de espera) 

Ivi Have Presence of Mind {Tener buenos repentes 
Ivii Slow and Sure {Mas seguros son los pensados) 
Iviii Adapt Yourself to your Company {Saber se 
atemperar) ..... 

lix Finish off well {Hombre de buen dexo) . 
Ix A Sound Judgment {Buenos dictamenes) 
Ixi To Excel in what is Excellent {Eminencia en 
lo mejor) ..... 

Ixii Use good Instruments {Obrar con buenos instru 
mentos) ..... 

Ixiii To be the First of the Kind is an Excellence 

{Excelencia de primero) 
Ixiv Avoid Worry {Saberse escusar pesares) . 
Ixv Elevated Taste {Gusto rele-vante) . 
Ixvi See that Things end well {Atencton que salgan 
bien las cosas) ..... 



Ixvii Prefer Callings en Evidence {Prefer ir los empleos 

plausible s) . . . . , •39 

Ixviii It is better to help with Intelligence than 
with Memory {Dar entendimiento es de mas 
primor que el ddr memoria) . . . -39 

Ixix Do not give way to every common Impulse 

[No rendirse d un vulgar humor) . . 40 

Ixx Know how to Refuse {Saber negar) . .41 

Ixxi Do not Vacillate {No ser desiguaf) . . 42 

Ixxii Be Resolute {Hombre de resolucion) . . 42 

Ixxiii Utilise Slips {Saber usar del desliz) . . 43 

Ixxiv Do not be Unsociable {No ser intratable) . 43 
Ixxv Choose an Heroic Ideal {Elegir idea heroyca) . 44 
Ixxvi Do not always be Jesting {No estdr siempre de 

burlas) ....... 45 

Ixxvii Be all Things to all Men {Saber ha-zerse a todos) 45 
Ixxviii The Art of undertaking Things {^rte en el 

intentar) ....... 46 

Ixxix A Genial Disposition {Genio genial) . . 46 

Ixxx Take care to get Information {Atencion al 

informarse) . . . . . •47 

Ixxxi Renew your Brilliance. (Usar el reno-var su 

lucimiento) ...... 47 

Ixxxii Drain Nothing to the Dregs, neither Good 

nor 111 {Nunca apurar^ ni el mal, ni el bien) . 48 
Ixxxiii Allow Yourself some venial Fault {Permitese 

algun venial desliz) . . . . -48 

Ixxxiv Make use of your Enemies {Saber usar de los 

enemigos). ...... 49 

Ixxxv Do not play Manille {No ser malilla) . .50 

Ixxxvi Prevent Scandal {Prevenir las malas vozes) . 50 



Ixxxvii Culture and Elegance [Cultura y al'ino) . 51 

Ixxxviii Let your Behaviour be Fine and Noble [Sea 
el trato for mayor procurando la sublimida 

en el) 52 

Ixxxix Yinovf Yonr^tli {Comprehension de si) . • 5^ 

xc The Secret of Long Life {^rte para 'uinnr 

mucho) . . , . , . -53 

xci Never set to work at Anytiun^ if you have 
any Doubts of its Prudence [Obrar siempre 
stn escrupolos de imprudencla) . . '53 

xcii Transcendant Wisdom (Seso transcendental) . 54 
xciii Versatility {Hombre universal) . . .54 
xciv Keep the extent of your Abilities unknown 

[Incomprehensibilidad de caudal) . -55 

xcv Keep Expectation alive {Saber entretenir la 

expectacion) . . . . . -55 

xcvi The highest Discretion [De la gran sinderesis) 55 
xcvii Obtain and preserve a Reputation [Conseguir 

y conservar la reputacion) . . . • 56 

xcviii Write your Intentions in Cypher [Cifrar la 

voluntad) . . . . , • 5^ 

xcix Ktality and ApTptarance [Realidadyapareticia) 57 
c A Man without Illusions, a wise Christian, 
a philosophic Courtier [Varon desengaiiado, 
Christiana sahio, Cortesano filosofo) , '57 

ci One half of the World laughs at the other, 
and Fools are they all [La mitad del 
mundo se esta riendo a la otra mitad^ con 
necedad de todos) , . . . • 5 8 
cii Be able to stomach big slices of Luck [Esto- 

mago para grandes bocados de la for tuna) . 58 








Let each keep up his Dignity {Cada uno la 

magestad en su modo) . . . -59 

Try your hand at Office {Tetter tornado el 

pulso a los empleos) . . . . -59 

Don't be a Bore [No camar) . . .60 

Do not parade your Position (No afectar la 
for tuna) . . . . . . .61 

Show no Self-satisfaction [No tnostrar satis- 
faccion de si) . . . . . .62 

The Path to Greatness is along with Others 

[Atajo para ser persona^ saber ladear) . . 62 

Be not Censorious [No ser acriminador) . 63 

Do not wait till you are a Sinking Sun [No 

aguardar a ser sol que se pone) . . -63 

Have Friends [Tener amigos) . . -64 

Gain Goo6-wi\i [Ganar la pia ajjccion) . 65 

In Prosperity prepare for Adversity [Pre- 

•uenirse en la fortuna prospera para la ad- 

•versa) ....... 65 

Never Compete {Nunca competir) . .66 

Get used to the Failings of your Familiars 
[Hazerse a las malas condiciones de los fam- 
iliar es) . . . . . . .66 

Only act with Honourable Men [Tratar 

siempre con gente de obligaciones) . . .67 

Never talk of Yourself [Nunca hablar de st) 67 
Acquire the Reputation of Courtesy [Ccb- 
rar fama de corte's) . . . . .68 

Avoid becoming Disliked [No ha^crse de 
mal querer) . . . . ■ .69 

Live Practically (^/w> ^ /o^Z^rfa) . . 69 



cxxi Do not make a Business of what is no 

Business {No Aazar negocio del no negocio) 70 
cxxii Distinction in Speech and Action {Senorio 

en el dezir y en el hazar) . . • 7 1 

cxxiii A\o\d Affectation [Hombre desafectado) . 71 
cxxiv Get Yourself missed {Llegar a ser deseados) 72 
cxxv Do not be a Black List {No ser Ubro •uerde) 73 
cxxvi Folly consists not in committing Folly, but 
in not hiding it when committed {No es 
necio el que ha%e la necedad^ sino el que hecha 
no la sabe encubrir) . . . -73 

cxxvii Grace in Everything {El despojo en todo) . 74 
cxxviii Highmindedness {Altera de animo) . . 74 

cxxix Never Complain {Nunca quexarse) . • 75 
cxxx Do and be seen Doing {Ha%er y ha%er 

parecer) ...... 76 

cxxxi Nobility of Feeling {Galanteria de condicion) 76 
cxxxii Revise your Judgments {Usar del reconsejo) yj 
cxxxiii Better Mad with the rest of the World than 
Wise alone {Antes loco con todos que cuerdo 
a solas) ...... "J"] 

cxxxiv Double your Resources {Dcblar los requisitos 

de la vida) ...... 78 

cxxxv Do not nourish the Spirit of Contradiction 

{No ienga espiritu de contradicion) . '79 

cxxxvi Post Yourself in the Centre of Things 

{Ponerse bien en las mater ias) . . -79 

cxxxvii The Sage should be Self-sufficing {Bastase 

a si mismo el sabio) , . . .80 

cxxxviii The Art of letting Things alone {Arte de 

dexar estar) ...... 80 



cxxxix Recognise unlucky Days {Comcer el dia 

aziago) . . . . . .81 

cxI Find the Good in a Thing at once {Hallar 

luego con lo bueno en cada cosa) . .82 

cxli Do not listen to Yourself {No escucharse) . 82 
cxlii Never from Obstinacy take the Wrong Side 
because your Opponent has anticipated 
you in taking the Right One {Nunca por 
tema seguir el peor partido porque el contrario 
se adelanto y escogeo el mejor) . . .83 

cxliii Never become Paradoxical in order to avoid 
the Trite [No ddr en paradoxo por huir 

de •vulgar) 84 

cxliv Begin with Another's to end with your 
Own {Entrar con la agena para salir con 

la suya) 85 

cxlv Do not show your wounded Finger {No 

descubrir el dedo malo) . . , • 85 

cxlvi Look into the Interior of Things {Mir ar por 

dentro) 86 

cxlvii Do not be Inaccessible {No ser inaccessible) . 86 

cxlviii Have the Art of Conversation {Tener el 

arte de conversar) . . . . .87 

cxlix Know how to put off Ills on Others 

{Saber declinar a otro los males) . .88 

cl Know how to get your Price for Things 

{Saber 'vender sus cosas) . , . -89 

cli Think beforehand {Pensar anticipado) . 89 

clii Never have a Companion who casts you 
in the Shade {Nunca acompanaise con quien 
que pueda deslucir). . . . .90 



cliii Beware of entering where there is a great 
Gap to be filled [Huya de entrar a llenar 
grandes •vacios) . . . . .91 

cliv Do not Believe, or Like, lightly {No set- 

facil en creer ni en querer) . . .91 

civ The Art of getting into a Passion [Arte en 

el afassionarse) , . . . .92 

clvi Select your friends {Amigos de eleccion) . 93 
clvii Do not make Mistakes about Character 

{No enganarse en las personal) . . 94 

clviii Make use of your Friends {Saber usar de los 

amigos) ...... 94 

clix Put up with Fools {Saber sufrir necios) . 95 
clx Be careful in Speaking {Hablar de atento) . 96 
clxi Know your pet Faults {Conocer los defectos 

dukes) ...... 96 

clxii How to triumph over Rivals and Detractors 
{Saber triunfar de la emulac'ton y male- 
•volencia) . . . . . -97 

clxiii Never, from Sympathy with the unfor- 
tunate, involve Yourself in his Fate 
{Nuncapor la compassion del tnfeliz se ha de 
incurrir en la desgracia del afortunado) . 97 

clxiv Throw Straws in the Air {Echar al ayre 

algunas cosas) . . . . .98 

clxv Wage War Honourably {Hazer buena guerra) 98 

clxvi Distinguish the Man of Words from the 
Man of Deeds {Diferenc'iar el hombre de 
palabras del de obras) . . . '99 

clxvii Know how to take your own Part {Saber se 

ayudar) . . , , . .100 



clxviii Do not indulge in the Eccentricities of Folly 

(No dar en momtruo de la necedad) . .100 

clxix Be more careful not to Miss once than to 
Hit a hundred times [Atencion a no errar 
una mas que a acertar c'lento) . . .101 

clxx In all Things keep Something in Reserve 

{XJzar del reten en todas las cosas) . .101 

clxxi Waste not Influence {No gastar el fa-vor) . 102 

clxxii Never contend with a Man who has 
nothing to Lose {No empeiiarse con quien no 
tiene que perder) . . . . -103 

clxxiii Do not be Glass in Intercourse, still less in 
Friendship {No ser de 'vitrio en el trato y 
menos en la amis tad) . . . .103 

clxxiv Do not live in a Hurry {No •uivir apriesa) 104 

clxxv A Solid Man {Hombre substancial) . . 105 

clxxvi Have Knowledge, or know those that 
have Knowledge {Saber escuchar a quien 
sabe) ....... 106 

clxxvii Avoid Familiarities in Intercourse {Escusar 

llane%as en el trato) . . . .106 

clxxviii Trust your Heart {Creer al corapn) . .107 

clxxix Reticence is the Seal of Capacity {La reten- 

tiva es el sella de la capacidad) . .107 

clxxx Never guide the Enemy to what he has to 
do {Nunca regirse por lo que el enemigo avia 
de ha%er) ...... 108 

clxxxi The Truth, but not the whole Truth {Sin 

mentir, no dezir todas las -verdades) -. .108 

clxxxii A Grain of Boldness in Everything (C/«^ra«o 

de audacia con iodo) . . . 1 09 




clxxxiii Do not hold your Views too firmly (No 

aprender Juerteniente) . . . .no 

clxxxiv Do not be Ceremonious (No ser ceremonial) no 
clxxxv Never stake your Credit on a single Cast 
{Nutica exponer el credito a la prueba de sola 
una 've'z) . . . . . .in 

clxxxvi Recognise Faults, however high placed 
{Conocer los dejectos por mas autori%ados que 

ester) in 

clxxxvii Do pleasant Things Yourself, unpleasant 
things through Others {Todo lo fa'uorable, 
obrarlo por si, todo lo od'ioso, por terceros) . 112 
clxxxviii Be the Bearer of Praise {Traer que alabar) 113 
clxxxix Utilise Another's Wants [Valerse de la 

pri'vacion agena) . . . . .114 

cxc Find Consolation in all Things {Hallar el 

consuelo en todo) . . . . .114 

cxci Do not take Payment in Politeness {No 

pagarse de la mucha cortesia) . . -US 

cxcii Peaceful Life, a long Life {Hombre de gran 

pa% hombre de mucha 'v'ldd) . . • "^^S 

cxciii Watch him that begins with Another's to 
end with his Own {Atencion al que e-ntra con 
agena por sal'ir a la suya) . . .116 

cxciv Have reasonable Views of Yourself and of 
your Affairs {Concebir de si y de sus cosas 
cuerdamente) . . . . .116 

cxcv Know how to Appreciate {Saber estimar) . 117 
cxcvi Know your ruling Star {Conocer su estrella) Wj 
cxcyii Do not carry Fools on your Back {Nunca 

embara^arse con los necios) . . .118 



cxcviii Know how to transplant Yourself {Saberse 

transplantar) . . . . .119 

cxcix To find a proper Place by Merit, not by 
Presumption [Saberse ha%er lugar a lo 
cuerdo^ no a. lo entremetido) . . .120 

cc Leave Something to wish for [Temr que 

desear) . . . . . .120 

cci They are all Fools who seem so besides half 
the rest {Son tontos todos las que lo parecen y 
la mitad de las que no le parecen^ . .121 

ccii Words and Deeds make the Perfect Man 

{Dichos y hechos ha%en un njaron comumado) 121 

cciii Know the great Men of your Age {Conocer 

las eminencias de su siglo) , . .122 

cciv Attempt easy Tasks as if they were difficult, 
and difficult as if they were easy {Lo facil 
se ha de emprender como dificultoso y lo 
d'lficultoso como facil) . . . .122 

ccv Know how to play the Card of Contempt 

{Saber jugar del desprechio) . , .123 

ccvi Know that there are vulgar Natures every- 
where {Sepase que ay i/ulgo en todas partes) 124 

ccvii Be Moderate {Usar del repm-te) . . .124 

ccviii Do not die of the Fools' Disease {No morir 

de achaque de necio) . . . . 125 

ccix Keep Yourself free from common Follies 

{Librarse de las comunes necedades) . .126 

ccx Know how to play the Card of Truth {Saber 

jugar de la -verdad) . . . .126 

ccxi In Heaven all is bliss {En el cielo todo es 

contento) . . . . . .127 



ccxii Keep to Yourself the final Touches of your 
Art (Reservarse siempre las ultimas tretas 

del arte) 128 

ccxiii Yinow how to QontraiWct {Saber contradecir) 128 
ccxiv Do not turn one Blunder into two {No 

hazer de una necedad dos) . . .129 

ccxv Watch him that acts on Second Thoughts 

{Atencicn al que llega de segunda intencion) 129 
ccxvi Be Expressive ( Tener la declarat'wd) . .130 
ccxvii Neither Love nor Hate for ever {No se ha 

de querer ni ahorrecer para siempre) . -131 
ccxviii Never act from Obstinacy but from 
Knowledge {Nunca obrar por tema sino 
por intencion) . . . . -131 

ccxix Do not pass for a Hypocrite {No ser tenido 

por hombre de artijicio) . . . .132 

ccxx If you cannot clothe yourself in Lionskin 
use Foxpelt {^luando no puede uno -vestirse 
la piel del Leon^ vestase la de la Vulpeja) 133 
ccxxi Do not seize Occasions to embarrass Yourself 
or Others {No ser ocasionado ni para 
empenarse^ ni para empenar) . . -133 

ccxxii Reserve is proof of Prudence {Hombre 

detenido e'videncia de prudente) , • 1 34 

» ccxxiii Be not Eccentric (iVo ser muy individuado) 134 
ccxxiv Never take Things against the Grain 

{Saber tomar las cosas nunca al repelo) . 135 
ccxxv Know your chief Fault (Cb«o«r i« </^f ft) i?cy) 136 
ccxxvi Take care to be Obliging {Atencion d obligar) 1 36 
ccxxvii Do not be the Slave of First Impressions 

{No ser de primera Impression) . .137 



ccxxviii Do not be a Scandalmonger {No tener 'vo'z 

de mala njo-z) . , . . • l'?7 

ccxxix Plan out your Life wisely {Sal?er repartir su 

fida a lo discreto) . . . .138 

ccxxx Open your Eyes betimes {Abrir los ojos con 

tiempo) ijg 

ccxxxi Never let Things be seen half - finished 
[Nunca permitir a medio hazer las 

cosas) 139 

ccxxxii Have a Touch of the Trader {Tener un punto 

de negociante) , . . , .140 

ccxxxiii Let not the proffered Morsel be distasteful 

[No errarle el golpe al gusto) . . .141 

ccxxxiv Never trust your Honour to another, unless 
you have his in Pledge [Nuncajiar reputa- 
cion sin prendas de honra agena) . . 141 

ccxxxv Know how to Ask [Saber pedir) . . 142 
ccxxxvi Make an Obligation beforehand of what 
would have to be a Reward afterwards 
(Hazer obligacion antes de lo que ha-via de 
ser premio de spues) . . . -143 

ccxxxvii Never share the Secrets of your Superiors 

(Nunca partir secretos con may ores) . -143 

ccxxxviii Know what is wanting in Yourself 

[Conocer la picza que falta) , . -144 

ccxxxix Do not be Captious {No ser reagudo). . 145 

ccxl Make use of Folly [Saber usar de la 

necedad) . . . . . -145 

ccxli Put up with Raillery, but do not practise it 

[Las bur las sujrirlas, pero no usar las) . 146 

ccxlii Push Advantages [Seguir los alcan^es) . 146 



ccxliii Do not be too much of a Dove {No ser todo 

colomb'tno) . . . . . -147 

ccxliv Create a feeling of Obligation {Saher 

obligar) . . . . . •147 

ccxlv Original and out-of-the-way Views {Dis- 
currir tal ^6% a lo singular y fuera de lo 
comun) ...... 148 

ccxlvi Never offer Satisfaction unless it is de- 
manded {Nunca ddr satisfacion d quien no 

la pedia) 149 

ccxlvii Know a little more, Live a little less 

{Saber un poco mas,y "vivir un poco menos) 149 
ccxlviii Do not go with the last Speaker (iVo se le 

lle-ve el ultimo) . . . . .150 

ccxlxix Never begin Life with what should end it 
{No comen^ar a vivir por donde se ha de 
acabar) . . . . . .150 

ccl When to change the Conversation {S^ando 

se ha de discurrir a re'ves) . . • '5' 

ccli Use human Means as if there were no 
divine ones, and divine as if there 
■ were no human ones {Hanse de procurar 
los medios humanos como sino hwuiesse 
Di'uinos,y los Divinos como sino hwuiesse 
humanos) . . . . . • IS'^ 

cclii Neither belong entirely to Yourself nor 
entirely to Others {Ni todo suyo ni todo 
ageno) . . . . . • ^S* 

ccliii Do not Explain overmuch {No allanarse 

sobrado en el concepto) . . . .152 

ccliv Never despise an Evil, however small {No 

despreciar el mal por poco) . . • 1 5 3 



cclv Do Good a little at a time, but often 

[Saber ha%er el bien poco y muchas "vezes) . 154 
cclvi Go armed against Discourtesy (/r siempre 

prevent do contra los discorteses) . • 1 54 

cclvii Never let Matters come to a Rupture 

{Nunca llegar a rompimiento) . . .155 

cclviii Find out some one to share your Troubles 
{Buscar quien le ayude a lleniar las infel'tci- 
dadei) . . . . . ,156 

cclix Anticipate Injuries and turn them into 
Favours [Prevenir las injurias y ha%ar 
dellas fa-vores) . . . . .156 

cclx We belong to none and none to us en- 
tirely (iVii sera ni tendra a ninguno todo por 

i«yo) 157 

cclxi Do not follow up a Folly (iVo proseguir la 

necedad) . . . . . .157 

cclxii Be able to Forget {Saber olvidar) . .158 

cclxiii Many Things of Taste one should not 
possess oneself {Muchas cosas de gusto no 
se kan de poseer en propriedad) . .158 

cclxiv Have no careless Days {No tenga dias de 

descuydo) . . . . . • ^$9 

cclxv Set those under you difficult Tasks {Saber 

empenar los dependientes) . . • ^$9 

cclxvi Do not become Bad from sheer Goodness 

{No ser malo de puro bueno) . . .160 

cclxvii Silken Words, Sugared Manners {Palabras 

de seda con sua-vidad de condicion) . .161 

cclxviii The Wise does at once what the Fool does 
at last {Haga al principio el cuerdo lo que el 
necio al fin) . ..... 161 



cclxix Make use of the Novelty of your Position 

[yalgase de su nauedad) . . .162 

cclxx Do not condemn alone that which pleases 
all (iVb condenar solo lo que a muchos 
agrada) ...... 162 

cclxxi In every Occupation if you know little 
stick to the safest [El que supiere poco 
tengase siempre a lo mas seguro en toda pro- 
fession) ...... 163 

cclxxii Sell Things by the Tariff of Courtesy 

[Vender las cosas aprecio de cortesia) . 163 

cclxxiii Comprehend their Dispositions with whom 
you deal [Comprehension de los genios con 
quien trata) . . . . . .164 

cclxxiv Be Attractive [Tener la atractiva) . .164 
cclxxv Join in the Game as far as Decency permits 

[Corriente pero no indecente) . . .165 

cclxxvi Know how to renew your Character [Saber 

renovar el genio) . . . . .166 

cclxx vii Display Yourself [Hombre de ostentacion) . 166 
cclxxviii Avoid Notoriety in all Things [Huir la nota 

en todo) ...... 168 

cclxxix Do not contradict the Contradicter [Node-zir 

al contradezir) . . . . .168 

cclxxx Be Trustworthy [Hombre de ley) . .168 

cclxxxi Find Favour with Men of Sense [Gracia 

con los entendidos) . . . . .169 

cclxxxil Make use of Absence to make yourself 
more esteemed or valued [Usar de la 
ausencia 6 para el respecto^ 6 para la estima- 
ctoti) ....... 170 



cclxxxiii Have the Gift of Discovery [Hombre de 

Inventi'va) . . . . . .170 

cclxxxiv Do not be Importunate {No ser entremedido) 171 
cclxxxv Never die of another's Ill-luck [No perecer 

de desdicha agena) . . . . • 1 7 1 

cclxxxvi Do not become responsible for all or for 
every one {No dexarse obligar del todo ni 
de todos) . . . . . .172 

cclxxxvii Never act in a Passion [Nunca obrar 

apa%mnado) . . . . • ^7^ 

cclxxxviii Live for the Moment {Vi'vir a la ocasion) . 173 
cclxxxix Nothing depreciates a Man more than to 
show he is a Man like other Men {El 
mayor desdoro de un hombre es ddr muestras 
de que es hombre) . . . . ■ ^73 

ccxc 'Tis a piece of Good Fortune to combine 
Men's Love and Respect {Es felicidad 
juntar el aprecio con el afecto") , - ^74- 

ccxci Know how to Test {Saber liazer la tentativa) 174 
ccxcii Let your personal Qualities surpass those 
of your Office {Veti^a el natural las 
obligaciones del empleo) . . . • ^7S 
ccxciii Maturity {De la madure%) . . -17$ 
ccxci V Be moderate in your Views {Moderarse en 

el sentir) 176 

ccxcv Do not Affect what you have not effected 

{No ha'x.aiiero sino ha%anoso) . . .176 

ccxcvi Noble Qualities {Varon de prendasy magestu- 

o^i) "^77 

ccxcvii Act always as if your Acts were seen 

{Obrar siempre como a -vista) . . .178 



ccxcviii Three Things go to a Prodigy {Tres cosas 

ha%en un prodigio) . . . .178 

ccxcix Leave off Hungry [Dexar con hambre) . 179 
ccc In one word, be a Saint {En una palabra 

santo) . . . . . . -179 

To the Reader 

No laws for the just, no counsels for the wise. 
Yet no one ever knew as much as he had need. 
One thing you must forgive, another, thank me 
for. I have called this manual of worldly wisdom 
an Oracle, for it is one in curtness and senten- 
tiousness. On the other hand, I offer you in one 
all the twelve works of Gracian. Each of these 
is so highly thought of that his Prudent Man 
had scarcely appeared in Spain than it was en- 
joyed among the French, in whose language it was 
translated and at whose court it was printed. May 
this he Wisdom^ s hill of fare at the banquet of 
her sages, in which she inscribes the items of the 
feast of reason to be found in Gracian^ s other works, 


1 Everything is at its Acme ; 

especially the art of making one's way in 
the world. There is more required nowa- 
days to make a single wise man than formerly 
to make Seven Sages, and more is needed 
nowadays to deal with a single person than 
was required with a whole people in former 

ii Character and Intellect : 

the two poles of our capacity ; one with- 
out the other is but halfway to happiness. 
Intellect sufficeth not, character is also needed. 
On the other hand, it is the fool's misfortune 
to fail in obtaining the position, the employ- 
ment, the neighbourhood, and the circle of 
friends that suit him. 

^ B 


iii Keep Matters fur a Time in Suspense. 

Admiration at their novelty heightens the 
value of your achievements. It is both useless 
and insipid to play with the cards on the table. 
If you do not declare yourself immediately, 
you arouse expectation, especially when the 
importance of your position makes you the 
object of general attention. Mix a little 
mystery with everything, and the very mystery 
arouses veneration. And when you explaiif, 
be not too explicit, just as you do not expose 
your inmost thoughts in ordinary intercourse. 
Cautious silence is the holy of holies of 
worldly wisdom. A resolution declared is 
never highly thought of; it only leaves room 
for criticism. And if it happens to fail, you 
are doubly unfortunate. Besides you imitate 
the Divine way when you cause men to 
wonder and watch. 

iv Knowledge and Courage 

are the elements of Greatness. They give 
immortality, because they are immortal. Each 
is as much as he knows, and the wise can do 
anything. A man without knowledge, a world 
without light. Wisdom and strength, eyes and 
hands. Knowledge without courage is sterile. 


V Create a Feeling of Dependence. 

Not he that adorns but he that adores makes 
a divinity. The wise man would rather see 
men needing him than thanking him. To 
keep them on the threshold of hope is diplo- 
matic, to trust to their gratitude boorish ; hope 
has a good memory, gratitude a bad one. More 
is to be got from dependence than from courtesy. 
He that has satisfied his thirst turns his back on 
the well, and the orange once sucked falls from 
the golden platter into the waste-basket. When 
dependence disappears, good behaviour goes 
with it as well as respect. Let it be one of 
the chief lessons of experience to keep hope 
alive without entirely satisfying it, by preserving 
it to make oneself always needed even by a 
patron on the throne. But let not silence be 
carried to excess lest you go wrong, nor let 
another's failing grow incurable for the sake of 
your own advantage. 

vi J Man at his Highest Point. 

We are not born perfect : every day we 
develop in our personality and in our calling 
till we reach the highest point of our completed 
being, to the full round of our accomplishments, 
of our excellences. This is known by the 



purity of our taste, the clearness of our thought, 
the maturity of our judgment, and the firmness 
of our will. Some never arrive at being com- 
plete ; somewhat is always awanting : others 
ripen late. The complete man, wise in speech, 
prudent in act, is admitted to the familiar 
intimacy of discreet persons, is even sought 
for by them. 

vii Avoid Victories over Superiors. 

All victories breed hate, and that over your 
superior is foolish or fatal. Superiority is 
always detested, a fortiori superiority over 
superiority. Caution can gloss over common 
advantages ; for example, good looks may be 
cloaked by careless attire. There be some that 
will grant you precedence in good luck or 
good temper, but none in good sense, least of 
all a prince ; for good sense is a royal preroga- 
tive, any claim to that is a case of lese majeste. 
They are princes, and wish to be so in that 
most princely of qualities. They will allow 
a man to help them but not to surpass them, 
and will have any advice tendered them appear 
like a recollection of something they have 
forgotten rather than as a guide to something 
they cannot find. The stars teach us this 
finesse with happy tact ; though they are his 


children and brilliant like him, they never rival 
the brilliancy of the sun. 

viii To be without Passions. 

'Tis a privilege of the highest order of mind. 
Their very eminence redeems them from being 
affected by transient and low impulses. There 
is no higher rule than that over oneself, over 
one's impulses : there is the triumph of free 
will. While passion rules the character, no 
aiming at high office ; the less the higher. It 
is the only refined way of avoiding scandals ; 
nay, 'tis the shortest way back to good repute. 

ix Avoid the Faults of your Nation. 

Water shares the good or bad qualities of 
the strata through which it flows, and man 
those of the climate in which he is born. 
Some owe more than others to their native 
land, because there is a more favourable sky in 
the zenith. There is not a nation even among 
the most civilised that has not some fault 
peculiar to itself which other nations blame 
by way of boast or as a warning. 'Tis a 
triumph of cleverness to correct in oneself 
such national failings, or even to hide them : 
you get great credit for being unique among your 


fellows, and as it is less expected of you it is 
esteemed the more. There are also family 
failings as well as faults of position, of office or 
of age. If these all meet in one person and are 
not carefully guarded against, they make an 
intolerable monster. 

X Fortune and Fame. 

Where the one is fickle the other is enduring. 
The first for life, the second afterwards ; the 
one against envy, the other against oblivion. 
Fortune is desired, at times assisted : fame is 
earned. The desire for fame springs from 
man's best part. It was and is the sister of the 
giants ; it always goes to extremes — horrible 
monsters or brilliant prodigies. 

xi Cultivate those who can teach you. 

Let friendly intercourse be a school of 
knowledge, and culture be taught through 
conversation : thus you make your friends your 
teachers and mingle the pleasures of conversa- 
tion with the advantages of instruction. Sensible 
persons thus enjoy alternating pleasures : they 
reap applause for what they say, and gain 
instruction from what they hear. We are 
always attracted to others by our own interest. 



but in this case it is of a higher kind. Wise 
men frequent the houses of great noblemen not 
because they are temples of vanity, but as 
theatres of good breeding. There be gentle- 
men who have the credit of worldly wisdom, 
because they are not only themselves oracles 
of all nobleness by their example and their 
behaviour, but those who surround them form 
a well-bred academy of worldly wisdom of the 
best and noblest kind. 

xii Nature and Art : 

material and workmanship. There is no 
beauty unadorned and no excellence that 
would not become barbaric if it were not 
supported by artifice : this remedies the evil 
and improves the good. Nature scarcely ever 
gives us the very best ; for that we must have 
recourse to art. Without this the best of 
natural dispositions is uncultured, and half is 
lacking to any excellence if training is absent. 
Every one has something unpolished without 
artificial training, and every kind of excellence 
needs some polish, 

xiii Jet sometimes on Second Thoughts, sometimes 
on First Impulse. 

Man's life is a warfare against the malice of 


men. Sagacity fights with strategic changes 
of intention : it never does what it threatens, 
it aims only at escaping notice. It aims in the 
air with dexterity and strikes home in an un- 
expected direction, always seeking to conceal 
Its game. It lets a purpose appear in order to 
attract the opponent's attention, but then turns 
round and conquers by the unexpected. But 
a penetrating intelligence anticipates this by 
watchfulness and lurks in ambush. It always 
understands the opposite of what the opponent 
wishes it to understand, and recognises every 
feint of guile. It lets the first impulse pass by 
and waits for the second, or even the third. 
Sagacity now rises to higher flights on seeing 
its artifice foreseen, and tries to deceive by truth 
itself, changes its game in order to change its 
deceit, and cheats by not cheating, and founds 
deception on the greatest candour. But the 
opposing intelligence is on guard with in- 
creased watchfulness, and discovers the dark- 
ness concealed by the light and deciphers every 
move, the more subtle because more simple. 
In this way the guile of the Python combats 
the far darting rays of Apollo. 

xiv The Thing Itself and the Way it is done. 
" Substance " is not enough : " accident " 


is also required, as the scholastics say. A bad 
manner spoils everything, even reason and 
justice ; a good one supplies everything, gilds a 
No, sweetens truth, and adds a touch of beauty 
to old age itself. The how plays a large part 
in affairs, a good manner steals into the 
affections. Fine behaviour is a joy in life, and 
a pleasant expression helps out of a difficulty 
in a remarkable way. 

XV Keep Ministering Spirits. 

It is a privilege of the mighty to surround 
themselves with the champions of intellect ; 
these extricate them from every fear of ignorance, 
these worry out for them the moot points of 
every difficulty. 'Tis a rare greatness to make 
use of the wise, and far exceeds the barbarous 
taste of Tigranes, who had a fancy for captive 
monarchs as his servants. It is a novel kind of 
supremacy, the best that life can offer, to have 
as servants by skill those who by nature are our 
masters. 'Tis a great thing to know, little to 
live : no real life without knowledge. There 
is remarkable cleverness in studying without 
study, in getting much by means of many, and 
through them all to become wise. Afterwards 
you speak in the council chamber on behalf of 
manv, and as many sages speak through your 


mouth as were consulted beforehand : you thus 
obtain the fame of an oracle by others' toil. 
Such ministering spirits distil the best books 
and serve up the quintessence of wisdom. But 
he that cannot have sages in service should 
have them for his friends. 

xvi Knowledge and Good Intentions 

together ensure continuance of success. A 
fine intellect wedded to a wicked will was 
always an unnatural monster. A wicked will 
envenoms all excellences : helped by know- 
ledge it only ruins with greater subtlety. 'Tis 
a miserable superiority that only results in ruin. 
Knowledge without sense is double folly. 

xvii Var;^ the Mode of Action; 

not always the same way, so as to distract 
attention, especially if there be a rival. Not 
always from first impulse ; they will soon 
recognise the uniformity, and by anticipating, 
frustrate your designs. It is easy to kill a bird 
on the wing that flies straight : not so one that 
twists. Nor always act on second thoughts : 
they can discern the plan the second time. 
The enemy is on the watch, great skill is re- 
quired to circumvent him. The gamester 


never plays the card the opponent expects, still 
less that which he wants. 

xviii Application and jibility. 

There is no attaining eminence without 
both, and where they unite there is the greatest 
eminence. Mediocrity obtains more with 
application than superiority without it. Work 
is the price which is paid for reputation. 
What costs little is little worth. Even for the 
highest posts it is only in some cases applica- 
tion that is wanting, rarely the talent. To 
prefer moderate success in great things than 
eminence in a humble post has the excuse of a 
generous mind, but not so to be content with 
humble mediocrity when you could shine 
among the highest. Thus nature and art are 
both needed, and application sets on them the 

xix Arouse no Exaggerated Expectations on 


It is the usual ill-luck of all celebrities not 
to fulfil afterwards the expectations beforehand 
rormed of them. The real can never equal 
the imagined, lor it is easy to form ideals but 
very difficult to realise them. Imagination 


weds Hope and gives birth to much more than 
things are in themselves. However great the 
excellences, they never suffice to fulfil expecta- 
tions, and as men find themselves disappointed 
with their exorbitant expectations they are 
more ready to be disillusionised than to admire. 
Hope is a great falsifier of truth ; let skill guard 
against this by ensuring that fruition exceeds 
desire. A few creditable attempts at the 
beginning are sufficient to arouse curiosity 
without pledging one to the final object. It 
is better that reality should surpass the design 
and is better than was thought. This rule 
does not apply to the wicked, for the same 
exaggeration is a great aid to them ; they are 
defeated amid general applause, and what seemed 
at first extreme ruin comes to be thought quite 

XX ^ Man of the Age. 

The rarest individuals depend on their age. 
It is not every one that finds the age he deserves, 
and even when he finds it he does not always 
know how to utilise it. Some men have been 
worthy of a better century, for every species of 
good does not always triumph. Things have 
their period ; even excellences are subject to 
fashion. The sage has one advantage : he is 



immortal. If t/^is is not his century many 
others will be. 

xxi T/^e Jrt of being Lucky. 

There are rules of luck : it is not all chance 
with the wise : it can be assisted by care. 
Some content themselves with placing them- 
selves confidently at the gate of Fortune, 
waiting till she opens it. Others do better, 
and press forward and profit by their clever 
boldness, reaching the goddess and winning 
her favour on the wings of their virtue and 
valour. But on a true philosophy there is no 
other umpire than virtue and insight; for there 
is no luck or ill-luck except wisdom and the 

xxii A Man of Knowledge to the Point. 

Wise men arm themselves with tasteful and 
elegant erudition ; a practical knowledge of 
what is going on not of a common kind but 
more like an expert. They possess a copious 
store of wise and witty sayings, and of noble 
deeds, and know how to employ them on fitting 
occasions. More is often taught by a jest 
than by the most serious teaching. Pat know- 
ledge helps some more than the seven arts, be 
they ever so liberal. 


xxiii Be Spotless: 

the indispensable condition of perfection. 
Few live without some weaK point, either 
physical or moral, which they pamper because 
they could easily cure it. The keenness of 
others often regrets to see a slight defect attach- 
ing itself to a whole assembly of elevated 
qualities, and yet a single cloud can hide the 
whole of the sun. There are likewise patches 
on our reputation which ill-will soon finds out 
and is continually noticing. The highest skill 
is to transform them into ornament. So Caesar 
hid his natural defects with the laurel. 

xxiv Keep the Imagination under Control; 

sometimes correcting, sometimes assisting it. 
For it is all-important for our happiness, and 
even sets the reason right. It can tyrannise, 
and is not content with looking on, but 
influences and even often dominates life, 
causing it to be happy or burdensome accord- 
ing to the folly to which it leads. For it 
makes us either contented or discontented with 
ourselves. Before some it continually holds 
up the penalties of action, and becomes the 
mortifying lash of these fools. To others it 
promises happiness and adventure with blissful 


delusion. It can do all this unless the most 
prudent self-control keeps it in subjection. 

XXV Know how to take a Hint. 

'Twas once the art of arts to be able to dis- 
course ; now 'tis no longer sufficient. We 
must know how to take a hint, especially in 
disabusing ourselves. He cannot make him- 
self understood who does not himself easily 
understand. But on the other hand there are 
pretended diviners of the heart and lynxes 
of the intentions. The very truths which 
concern us most can only be half spoken, but 
with attention we can grasp the whole meaning. 
When you hear anything favourable keep a 
tight rein on your credulity ; if unfavourable, 
give it the spur. 

xxvi Find out each Man^s Thumbscrew. 

'Tis the art of setting their wills in action. 
It needs more skill than resolution. You must 
know where to get at any one. Every volition 
has a special motive which varies according to 
taste. All men are idolaters, some of fame, 
others of self-interest, most of pleasure. Skill 
consists in knowing these idols in order to bring 
them into play. Knowing any man's main- 


spring of motive you have as it were the key to 
his will. Have resort to primary motors, which 
are not always the highest but more often the 
lowest part of his nature : there are more 
dispositions badly organised than well. First 
guess a man's ruling passion, appeal to it by a 
word, set it in motion by temptation, and you 
will infallibly give checkmate to his freedom 
of will. 

xxvii Prize Intensity more than Extent. 

Excellence resides in quality not in quantity. 
The best is always few and rare : much lowers 
value. Even among men giants are commonly 
the real dwarfs. Some reckon books by the 
thickness, as if they were written to try the 
brawn more than the brain. Extent alone 
never rises above mediocrity : it is the mis- 
fortune of universal geniuses that in attempting 
to be at home everywhere, are so nowhere. 
Intensity gives eminence, and rises to the heroic 
in matters sublime. 

xxviii Common in Nothing. 

First, not in taste. O great and wise, to be 
ill at ease when your deeds please the mob ! 
The excesses of popular applause never satisfy 


the sensible. Some there are such chameleons 
of popularity that they find enjoyment not in 
the sweet savours of Apollo but in the breath 
of the mob. Secondly, not in intelligence. 
Take no pleasure in the wonder of the mob, for 
Ignorance never gets beyond wonder. While 
vulgar follv wonders wisdom watches for the 

xxix J Maji of Rectitude 

clings to the sect of right with such tenacity 
of purpose that neither the passions of the mob 
nor the violence of the tyrant can ever cause 
him to transgress the bounds of right. But 
who shall be such a Phcenix of equity ? What 
a scanty following has rectitude ! Many praise 
it indeed, but — for others. Others follow it 
till danger threatens ; then the false deny it, 
the politic conceal it. For it cares not if it 
fights with friendship, power, or even self- 
interest : then comes the danger of desertion. 
Then astute men make plausible distinctions 
so as not to stand in the way of their superiors 
or of reasons of state. But the straightforward 
and constant regard dissimulation as a kind of 
treason, and set more store on tenacity than on 
sagacity. Such are always to be found on the 
side of truth, and if they desert a party, they do 


not change from fickleness, but because the 
others have first deserted truth. 

XXX Have naught to do with Occupations 
of Ill-repute, 
still less with fads that bring more notoriety 
than repute. There are many fanciful sects, 
and from all the prudent man has to flee. 
There are bizarre tastes that always take to 
their heart all that wise men repudiate ; they 
live in love with singularity. This may make 
them well known indeed, but more as objects 
of ridicule than of repute. A cautious man 
does not even make profession of his wisdom, 
still less of those matters that make their fol- 
lowers ridiculous. These need not be specified, 
for common contempt has sufficiently singled 
them out. 

xxxi Select the Lucky and avoid the Unlucky. 

Ill-luck is generally the penalty of folly, and 
there is no disease so contagious to those who 
share in it. Never open the door to a lesser 
evil, for other and greater ones invariably slink 
in after it. The greatest skill at cards is to 
know when to discard ; the smallest of current 
trumps is worth more than the ace of trumps 
of the last game. When in doubt, follow the 


suit of the wise and prudent ; sooner or later 
they will win the odd trick. 

xxxii Have the Reputation of being Gracious, 

'Tis the chief glory of the high and mighty 
to be gracious, a prerogative of kings to conquer 
universal goodwill. That is the great advantage 
of a commanding position — to be able to do more 
good than others. Those make friends who do 
friendly acts. On the other hand, there are 
some who lay themselves out for not being 
gracious, not on account of the difficulty, but 
from a bad disposition. In all things they are 
the opposite of Divine grace. 

xxxiii Know how to Withdraw. 

If it is a great lesson in life to know how to 
deny, it is a still greater to know how to deny 
oneself as regards both affairs and persons. 
There are extraneous occupations which eat 
away precious time. To be occupied in what 
does not concern you is worse than doing 
nothing. It is not enough for a careful man 
not to interfere with others, he must see that 
they do not interfere with him. One is not 
obliged to belong so much to all as not to 
belong at all to oneself. So with friends, their 



help should not be abused or more demanded 
from them than they themselves will grant. 
All excess is a failing, but above all in personal 
intercourse. A wise moderation in this best 
preserves the goodwill and esteem of all, for 
by this means that precious boon of courtesy is 
not gradually worn away. Thus you preserve 
your genius free to select the elect, and never 
sin against the unwritten laws of good taste. 

xxxiv Know your strongest Point — 

your pre-eminent gift j cultivate that and 
you will assist the rest. Every one would have 
excelled in something if he had known his 
strong point. Notice in what quality you 
surpass, and take charge of that. In some 
judgment excels, in others valour. Most do 
violence to their natural aptitude, and thus 
attain superiority in nothing. Time dis- 
illusionises us too late of what first flattered 
the passions. 

XXXV Think over Things, most over the most 

All fools come to grief from want of thought. 
They never see even the half of things, and as 
they do not observe their own loss or gain, still 


less do they apply any diligence to them. 
Some make much of what imports little and 
little of much, always weighing in the wrong 
scale. Many never lose their common sense, 
because they have none to lose. There are 
matters which should be observed with the 
closest attention of the mind, and thenceforth 
kept in its lowest depths. The wise man 
thinks over everything, but with a difference, 
most profoundly where there is some profound 
difficulty, and thinks that perhaps there is more 
in it than he thinks. Thus his comprehension 
extends as far as his apprehension. 

XXX vi In Acting or Refraining, weigh your Luck. 

More depends on that than on noticing your 
temperament. If he is a fool who at forty 
applies to Hippocrates for health, still more is 
he one who then first applies to Seneca for 
wisdom. It is a great piece of skill to know 
how to guide your luck even while waiting for 
it. For something is to be done with it by 
waiting so as to use it at the proper moment, 
since it has periods and offers opportunities, 
though one cannot calculate its path, its steps 
are so irregular. When you find Fortune 
favourable, stride boldly forward, for she favours 
the bold and, being a woman, the young. But 


if you have bad luck, keep retired so as not to 
redouble the influence of your unlucky star. 

xxxvii Keep a Store of Sarcasms, a?id know how 
to use them. 

This is the point of greatest tact in human 
intercourse. Such sarcasms are often thrown 
out to test men's moods, and by their means one 
often obtains the most subtle and penetrating 
touchstone of the heart. Other sarcasms are 
malicious, insolent, poisoned by envy or en- 
venomed by passion, unexpected flashes which 
destroy at once all favour and esteem. Struck 
by the slightest word of this kind, many fall 
away from the closest intimacy with superiors 
or inferiors which could not be the slightest 
shaken by a whole conspiracy of popular 
insinuation or private malevolence. Other 
sarcasms, on the other hand, work favourably, 
confirming and assisting one's reputation. But 
the greater the skill with which they are 
launched, the greater the caution with which 
they should be received and the foresight 
with which they should be foreseen. For 
here a knowledge of the evil is in itself a 
means of defence, and a shot foreseen always 
misses its mark. 


xxxviii Leave ^our Luck while Winning. 

All the best players do it. A fine retreat is 
as good as a gallant attack. Bring your exploits 
under cover when there are enough, or even 
when there are many of them. Luck long 
lasting was ever suspicious ; interrupted seems 
safer, and is even sweeter to the taste for a little 
infusion of bitter-sweet. The higher the heap 
of luck, the greater the risk of a slip, and down 
comes all. Fortune pays you sometimes for 
the intensity of her favours by the shortness of 
their duration. She soon tires of carrying any 
one long on her shoulders. 

xxxix Recognise when Things are ripe, and then 
enjoy them. 

The works of nature all reach a certain 
point of maturity ; up to that they improve, 
after that they degenerate. Few works of 
art reach such a point that they cannot be 
improved. It is an especial privilege of good 
taste to enjoy everything at its ripest. Not all 
can do this, nor do all who can know this. 
There is a ripening point too for fruits of 
intellect ; it is well to know this both for their 
value in use and for their value in exchange. 


xl The Goodwill of People. 

'Tis much to gain universal admiration ; 
more, universal love. Something depends on 
natural disposition, more on practice : the first 
founds, the second then builds on that founda- 
tion. Brilliant parts suffice not, though they 
are presupposed ; win good opinion and 'tis 
easy to win goodwill. Kindly acts besides are 
required to produce kindly feelings, doing good 
with both hands, good words and better deeds, 
loving so as to be loved. Courtesy is the 
politic witchery of great personages. First 
lay hand on deeds and then on pens ; words 
follow swords ; for there is goodwill to be 
won among writers, and it is eternal. 

xli Never Exaggerate. 

It is an important object of attention not to 
talk in superlatives, so as neither to offend 
against truth nor to give a mean idea of one's 
understanding. Exaggeration is a prodigality 
of the judgment which shows the narrowness 
of one's knowledge or one's taste. Praise arouses 
lively curiosity, begets desire, and if afterwards 
the value does not correspond to the price, as 
generally happens, expectation revolts against 


the deception, and revenges itself by under- 
estimating the thing recommended and the 
person recommending. A prudent man goes 
more cautiously to work, and prefers to err by 
omission than by commission. Extraordinary 
things are rare, therefore moderate ordinary 
valuation. Exaggeration is a branch of lying, 
and you lose by it the credit of good taste, 
which is much, and of good sense, which is 

xlii Born to Command. 

It is a secret force of superiority not to have 
to get on by artful trickery but by an inborn 
power of rule. All submit to it without 
knowing why, recognising the secret vigour of 
connatural authority. Such magisterial spirits 
are kings by merit and lions by innate privilege. 
By the esteem which they inspire, they hold 
the hearts and minds of the rest. If their 
other qualities permit, such men are born to 
be the prime motors of the state. They per- 
form more by a gesture than others by a long 

xliii Think with the Few and speak with the Many. 

By swimming against the stream it is 
impossible to remove error, easy to fall into 


danger ; only a Socrates can undertake it. To 
dissent from others' views is regarded as an 
insult, because it is their condemnation. 
Disgust is doubled on account of the thing 
blamed and of the person who praised it. 
Truth is for the few, error is both common 
and vulgar. The wise man is not known by 
what he says on the house-tops, for there he 
speaks not with his own voice but with that 
of common folly, however much his inmost 
thoughts may gainsay it.- The prudent avoid 
being contradicted as much as contradicting : 
though they have their censure ready they are 
not ready to publish it. Thought is free, force 
cannot and should not be used to it. The 
wise man therefore retires into silence, and if 
he allows himself to come out of it, he does 
so in the shade and before few and fit persons. 

xliv Sympathy with great Minds. 

It is an heroic quality to agree with heroes. 
'Tis like a miracle of nature for mystery 
and for use. There is a natural kinship of 
hearts and minds : its effects are such that 
vulgar ignorance scents witchcraft. Esteem 
established, goodwill follows, which at times 
reaches affection. It persuades without words 
and obtains without earning. This sympath} 


is sometimes active, sometimes passive, both 
alike felicific ; the more so, the more sublime. 
'Tis a great art to recognise, to distinguish and 
to utilise this gift. No amount of energy 
suffices without that favour of nature. 

xlv Use, but do not abuse. Cunning, 

One ought not to delight in it, still less to 
boast of it. Everything artificial should be 
concealed, most of all cunning, which is hated. 
Deceit is much in use ; therefore our caution 
has to be redoubled, but not so as to show 
itself, for it arouses distrust, causes much annoy, 
awakens revenge, and gives rise to more ills 
than you would imagine. To go to work with 
caution is of great advantage in action, and 
there is no greater proof of wisdom. The 
greatest skill in any deed consists in the sure 
mastery with which it is executed. 

xlvi Master your Antipathies. 

We often allow ourselves to take dislikes, and 
that before we know anything of a person. 
At times this innate yet vulgar aversion attaches 
Itself to eminent personalities. Good sense 
masters this feeling, for there is nothing more 
discreditable than to dislike those better than 


ourselves. As sympathy with great men en- 
nobles us, so dislike to them degrades us. 

xlvii Avoid ^^Jffairs of Honour" 

— one of the chiefest aims of prudence. In 
men of great ability the extremes are kept far 
asunder, so that there is a long distance between 
them, and they always keep in the middle or 
their caution, so that they take time to break 
through it. It is easier to avoid such affairs 
than to come well out of them. They test our 
judgment ; it is better to avoid them than to 
conquer in them. One affair of honour leads 
to another, and may lead to an affair of dishonour. 
There are men so constituted by nature or by 
nation that they easily enter upon such 
obligations. But for him that walks by the 
light of reason, such a matter requires long 
thinking over. There is more valour needed 
not to take up the affair than to conquer in it. 
When there is one fool ready for the occasion, 
one may excuse oneself from being the second. 

xlviii Be Thorough. 

How much depends on the person. The 
interior must be at least as much as the exterior. 
There are natures all frontage, like houses that 


for want of means have the portico of a 
palace leading to the rooms of a cottage. It is 
no use boring into such persons, although they 
bore you, for conversation flags after the first 
salutation. They prance through the first 
compliments like Sicilian barbs, but silence soon 
succeeds, for the flow of words soon ceases where 
there is no spring of thoughts. Others may be 
taken in by them because they themselves have 
but a view of the surface, but not the prudent, 
who look within them and find nothing there 
except material for scorn. 

xlix Observation and Judgment. 

A man with these rules things, not they him. 
He sounds at once the profoundest depths ; he 
is a phrenologist by means of physiognomy. 
On seeing a person he understands him and 
judges of his inmost nature. From a few 
observations he deciphers the most hidden 
recesses of his nature. Keen observation, 
subtile insight, judicious inference : with 
these he discovers, notices, grasps, and com- 
prehends everything. 

1 Never lose Self-respect, 
or be too familiar with oneself. Let your 


own right feeling be the true standard of your 
rectitude, and owe more to the strictness of 
your own self-judgment than to all external 
sanctions. Leave off anything unseemly more 
from regard for your own self-respect than 
from fear of external authority. Pay regard 
to that and there is no need of Seneca's 
imaginary tutor. 

li K/20ZV how to Choose well. 

Most of life depends thereon. It needs 
good taste and correct judgment, for which 
neither intellect nor study suffices. To be 
choice, you must choose, and for this two 
things are needed : to be able to choose at all, 
and then to choose the best. There are many 
men of fecund and subtle mind, of keen 
judgment, of much learning, and of great 
observation who yet are at a loss when they 
come to choose. They always take the worst as 
if they had tried to go wrong. Thus this is 
one of the greatest gifts from above. 

Hi "Never be put out, 

'Tis a great aim of prudence never to be 
embarrassed. It is the sign of a real man, of a 
noble heart, for magnanimity is not easily put 


^ out. 1 


out. The passions are the humours of the soul, 
and every excess in them weakens prudence ; 
if they overflow through the mouth, the 
reputation will be in danger. Let a man 
therefore be so much and so great a master over 
himself that neither in the most fortunate nor 
in the most adverse circumstances can any- 
thing cause his reputation injury by disturbing 
his self-possession, but rather enhance it by 
showing his superiority. 

liii Diligent and Intelligent. 

Diligence promptly executes what intelli- 
gence slowly excogitates. Hurry is the failing 
of fools ; they know not the crucial point and 
set to work without preparation. On the 
other hand, the wise more often fail from 
procrastination ; foresight begets deliberation, 
and remiss action often nullifies prompt 
judgment. Celerity is the mother of good 
fortune. He has done much who leaves 
nothing over till to-morrow. Festina lente is 
a royal motto, 

liv Know how to show your Teeth. 

Even hares can pull the mane of a dead lion. 
There is no joke about courage. Give way 


to the first and you must yield to the second, 
and so on till the last, and to gain your point 
at last costs as much trouble as would have 
gained much more at first. Moral courage 
exceeds physical; it should be like a sword 
kept ready for use in the scabbard of caution. 
It IS the shield of great place ; moral cowardice 
lowers one more than physical. Many have 
had eminent qualities, yet, for want of a stout 
heart, they passed inanimate lives and found a 
tomb in their own sloth. Wise Nature has 
thoughtfully combined in the bee the sweetness 
of its honey with the sharpness of its sting. 

Iv Wait, 

It's a sign of a noble heart dowered with 
patience, never to be in a hurry, never to be 
in a passion. First be master over yourself if 
you would be master over others. You must 
pass through the circumference of time before 
arriving at the centre of opportunity. A wise 
reserve seasons the aims and matures the means. 
Time's crutch effects more than the iron club 
of Hercules. God Himself chasteneth not with 
a rod but with time. He ^ spake a great ivord 
who said, " Time and I against any two." 

1 CJfarles V. 



Fortune herself rewards waiting with the first 

Ivi Have Presence of Mind. 

The child of a happy promptitude of spirit. 
Owing to this vivacity and wideawakeness 
there is no fear of danger or mischance. 
Many reflect much only to go wrong in the 
end : others attain their aim without think- 
ing of it beforehand. There are natures of 
Antiperistasis who work best in an emergency. 
They are like monsters who succeed in all 
they do offhand, but fail in aught they think 
over. A thing occurs to them at once or 
never : for them there is no court of appeal. 
Celerity wins applause because it proves 
remarkable capacity ; subtlety of judgment, 
prudence in action. 

Ivii Blow and Sure. 

Early enough if well. Quickly done can be 
quickly undone. To last an eternity requires 
an eternity of preparation. Only excellence 
counts ; only achievement endures. Profound 
intelligence is the only foundation for 
immortality. Worth much costs much. The 
precious metals are the heaviest. 


Iviii Adapt Yourself to pur Company. 

There is no need to show your ability before 
every one. Employ no more force than is 
necessary. Let there be no unnecessary 
expenditure either of knowledge or of power. 
The skilful falconer only flies enough birds 
to serve for the chase. If there is too much 
display to-day there will be nothing to show 
to-morrow. Always have some novelty where- 
with to dazzle. To show something fresh 
each day keeps expectation alive and conceals 
the limits of capacity. 

lix Finish off well. 

In the house of Fortune, if you enter by the 
gate of pleasure you must leave by that of 
sorrow and vice versa. You ought therefore 
to think of the finish, and attach more im- 
portance to a graceful exit than to applause 
on entrance. 'Tis the common lot of the 
unlucky to have a very fortunate outset and a 
very tragic end. The important point is not 
the vulgar applause on entrance — that comes 
to nearly all — but the general feeling at exit. 
Few in life are felt to deserve an encore. 
Fortune rarely accompanies any one to the 


door : warmly as she may welcome the coming, 
she speeds but coldly the parting guest. 

Ix A Sound Judgment. 

Some are born wise, and with this natural 
advantage enter upon their studies, with a 
moiety already mastered. With age and ex- 
perience their reason ripens, and thus they 
attain a sound judgment. They abhor every- 
thing whimsical as leading prudence astray, 
especially in matters of state, where certainty 
is so necessary, owing to the importance of the 
affairs involved. Such men deserve to stand 
by the helm of state either as pilots or as men 
at the wheel. 

Ixi To Excel in what is Excellent, 

A great rarity among excellences. You can- 
not have a great man without something pre- 
eminent. Mediocrities never win applause. 
Eminence in some distinguished post dis- 
tinguishes one from the vulgar mob and ranks 
us with the elect. To be distinguished in a 
small post is to be great in little : the more 
comfort, the less glory. The highest eminence 
in great affairs has the royal characteristic of 
exciting admiration and winning goodwill. 


Ixii Use good Instruments, 

Some would have the subtlety of their wits 
proven by the meanness of their instruments. 
'Tis a dangerous satisfaction, and deserves 
a fatal punishment. The excellence of a 
minister never diminished the greatness of his 
lord. All the glory of exploits reverts to the 
principal actor ; also all the blame. Fame 
only does business with principals. She does 
not say, " This had good, that had bad serv- 
ants," but, " This was a good artist, that a 
bad one." Let your assistants be selected and 
tested therefore, for you have to trust to them 
for an immortality of fame. 

Ixiii To be the First of the Kindts an Excellence, 

and to be eminent in it as well, a double 
one. To have the first move is a great ad- 
vantage when the players are equal. Many a 
man would have been a veritable Phoenix if he 
had been the first of the sort. Those who 
come first are the heirs of Fame ; the others 
get only a younger brother's allowance : what- 
ever they do, they cannot persuade the world 
they are anything more than parrots. The 
skill of prodigies may find a new path to 



eminence, but prudence accompanies them all 
the way. By the novelty of their enterprises 
sages write their names in the golden book of 
heroes. Some prefer to be first in things of 
minor import than second in greater exploits. 

Ixiv Avoid Worn. 

Such prudence brings its own reward. It 
escapes much, and is thus the midwife of 
comfort and so of happiness. Neither give nor 
take bad news unless it can help. Some men's 
ears are stuffed with the sweets of flattery ; 
others with the bitters of scandal, while some 
cannot live without a daily annoyance no more 
than Mithridates could without poison. It is 
no rule of life to prepare for yourself lifelong 
trouble in order to give a temporary enjoyment 
to another, however near and dear. You never 
ought to spoil your own chances to please 
another who advises and keeps out of the affair, 
and in all cases where to oblige another involves 
disobliging yourself, 'tis a standing rule that it 
is better he should suffer now than you after- 
wards and in vain. 

Ixv Elevated Taste. 
You can train it like the intellect. Full 


knowledge whets desire and increases enjoy- 
ment. You may know a noble spirit by the 
elevation of his taste : it must be a great thing 
that can satisfy a great mind. Big bites for big 
mouths, lofty things for lofty spirits. Before 
their judgment the bravest tremble, the most 
perfect lose confidence. Things of the first 
importance are few ; let appreciation be rare. 
Taste can be imparted by intercourse : great 
good luck to associate with the highest taste. 
But do not afi^ect to be dissatisfied with every- 
thing : 'tis the extreme of folly, and more 
odious if from affectation than if from Quixotry. 
Some would have God create another world 
and other ideals to satisfy their fantastic imag- 

Ixvi See that Things end well. 

Some regard more the rigour of the game 
than the winning of it, but to the world the 
discredit of the final failure does away with 
any recognition of the previous care. The 
victor need not explain. The world does not 
notice the details of the measures employed, 
but only the good or ill result. You lose 
nothing if you gain your end. A good end 
gilds everything, however unsatisfactory the 
means. Thus at times it is part of the art of 


life to transgress the rules of the art, if you 
cannot end well otherwise. 

Ixvii Prefer Callings " en Evidence. ' 

Most things depend on the satisfaction of 
others. Esteem is to excellence what the 
zephyr is to flowers, the breath of life. There 
are some callings which gain universal esteem, 
while others more important are without 
credit. The former, pursued before the eyes 
of all, obtain the universal favour ; the others, 
diough they are rarer and more valuable, 
remain obscure and unperceived, honoured 
but not applauded. Among princes conquerors 
are the most celebrated, and therefore the kings 
of Aragon earned such applause as warriors, 
conquerors, and great men. An able man will 
prefer callings en evidence which all men know 
of and utilise, and he thus becomes immor- 
talised by universal suffrage. 

Ixviii // // better to help with Intelligence than 
with Memory. 

The more as the latter needs only recollec- 
tion, the former voi;?. Many persons omit the 
a propos because it does not occur to them ; 
a friend's advice on such occasions may enable 


them to see the advantages. 'Tis one of the 
greatest gifts of mind to be able to oiFer what 
is needed at the moment : for want of that 
many things fail to be performed. Share the 
light of your intelligence, when you have any, 
and ask for it when you have it not, the first 
cautiously, the last anxiously. Give no more 
than a hint : this finesse is especially needful 
when it touches the interest of him whose 
attention you awaken. You should give but a 
taste at first, and then pass on to more when 
that is not sufficient. If he thinks of No, go 
in search of Yes. Therein lies the cleverness, 
for most things are not obtained simply because 
they are not attempted. 

Ixix Do not give way to every common Impulse. 

He is a great man who never allows himself 
to be influenced by the impressions of others. 
Self-reflection is the school of wisdom. To 
know one's disposition and to allow for it, even 
going to the other extreme so as to find the 
juste milieu between nature and art. Self- 
knowledge is the beginning of self-improve- 
ment. There be some whose humours are so 
monstrous that they are always under the 
influence of one or other of them, and put 
them in place of their real inclinations. They 



are torn asunder by such disharmony and get 
involved in contradictory obligations. Such 
excesses not only destroy firmness of will ; all 
power of judgment gets lost, desire and know- 
ledge pulling in opposite directions. 

Ixx Know how to Refuse. 

One ought not to give way in everything 
nor to everybody. To know how to refuse is 
therefore as important as to know how to 
consent. This is especially the case with men 
of position. All depends on the how. Some 
men's No is thought more of than the Yes of 
others : for a gilded No is more satisfactory 
than a dry Yes. There are some who always 
have No on their lips, whereby they make 
everything distasteful. No always comes first 
with them, and when sometimes they give way 
after all, it does them no good on account of 
the unpleasing herald. Your refusal need not 
be point-blank : let the disappointment come 
by degrees. Nor let the refusal be final ; that 
would be to destroy dependence ; let some spice 
of hope remain to soften the rejection. Let 
politeness compensate and fine words supply 
the place of deeds. Yes and No are soon said, 
but give much to think over. 


Ixxl Do not Vacillate. 

Let not your actions be abnormal either 
from disposition or afFectation. An able man 
is always the same in his best qualities ; he 
gets the credit of trustworthiness. If he 
changes, he does so for good reason or good 
consideration. In matters of conduct change 
is hateful. There are some who are different 
every day ; their intelligence varies, still more 
their will, and with this their fortune. 
Yesterday's white is to-day's black: to-day's 
No was yesterday's Yes. They always give 
the lie to their own credit and destroy their 
credit with others. 

Ixxii Be Resolute. 

Bad execution of your designs does less harm 
than irresolution in forming them. Streams do 
less harm flowing than when dammed up. 
There are some men so infirm of purpose that 
they always require direction from others, and 
this not on account of any perplexity, for they 
judge clearly, but from sheer incapacity for 
action. It needs some skill to find out diffi- 
culties, but more to find a way out of them. 
There are others who are never in straits . 
their clear judgment and determined character 


fit them for the highest callings : their 
intelligence tells them where to insert the thin 
end of the wedge, their resolution how to drive 
it home. They soon get through anything : 
as soon as they have done with one sphere of 
action, they are ready for another. AfEanced 
to Fortune, they make themselves sure of 

Ixxiii Utilise Slips. 

That is how smart people get out of difficulties. 
They extricate themselves from the most intri- 
cate labyrinth by some witty application of a 
bright remark. They get out of a serious con- 
tention by an airy nothing or by raising a 
smile. Most of the great leaders are well 
grounded in this art. When you have to re- 
fuse, it is often the polite way to talk of some- 
thing else. Sometimes it proves the highest 
understanding not to understand. 

Ixxiv Do not be Unsociable. 

The truest wild beasts live in the most 
populous places. To be inaccessible is the 
fault of those who distrust themselves, whose 
honours change their manners. It is no way of 
earning people's goodwill by being ill-tempered 


with them. It is a sight to see one of those 
unsociable monsters who make a point of being 
proudly impertinent. Their dependants who 
have the misfortune to be obliged to speak with 
them, enter as if prepared for a fight with 
a tiger armed with patience and with fear. 
To obtain their post these persons must have 
ingratiated themselves with every one, but 
having once obtained it they seek to indemnify 
themselves by disobliging all. It is a condition 
of their position that they should be accessible 
to all, yet, from pride or spleen, they are so to 
none. 'Tis a civil way to punish such men 
by letting them alone, and depriving them of 
opportunities of improvement by granting them 
no opportunity of intercourse. 

Ixxv Choose an Heroic Ideal; 

but rather to emulate than to imitate. 
There are exemplars of greatness, living texts 
of honour. Let every one have before his 
mind the chief of his calling not so much to 
follow him as to spur himself on. Alexander 
wept not on account of Achilles dead and 
buried, but over himself, because his fame had 
not yet spread throughout the world. Nothing 
arouses ambition so much in the heart as the 
trumpet-clang of another's fame. The same 



thing that sharpens envy, nourishes a generous 

Ixxvi Do not always be Jesting. 

Wisdom is shown in serious matters, and is 
more appreciated than mere wit. He that is 
always ready for jests is never ready for serious 
things. They resemble liars in that men never 
believe either, always expecting a lie in one, a 
joke in the other. One never knows when 
you speak with judgment, which is the same 
as if you had none. A continual jest soon loses 
all zest. Many get the repute of being witty, 
but thereby lose the credit of being sensible. 
Jest has its little hour, seriousness should have 
all the rest. 

Ixxvii Be all Things to all Men 

— a discreet Proteus, learned with the learned, 
saintly with the sainted. It is the great art to 
gain every one's suffrages ; their goodwill gains 
general agreement. Notice men's moods and 
adapt yourself to each, genial or serious as the 
case may be. Follow their lead, glossing over 
the changes as cunningly as possible. This is 
an indispensable art for dependent persons. 
But this savoir faire calls for great cleverness. 
He only will find no difficulty who has a 


universal genius in his knowledge and universal 
ingenuity in his wit. 

Ixxviii The Art of undertaking 1^ kings. 

Fools rush in through the door ; for folly is 
always bold. The same simplicity which robs 
them of all attention to precautions deprives 
them of all sense of shame at failure. But 
prudence enters with more deliberation. Its 
forerunners are caution and care ; they advance 
and discover whether you can also advance 
without danger. Every rush forward is freed 
from danger by caution, while fortune some- 
times helps in such cases. Step cautiously 
where you suspect depth. Sagacity goes 
cautiously forward while precaution covers 
the ground. Nowadays there are unsuspected 
depths in human intercourse, you must there- 
fore cast the lead at every step. 

Ixxix A Genial Disposition. 

If with moderation 'tis an accomplishment, 
not a defect. A grain of gaiety seasons all. 
The greatest men join in the fun at times, and 
it makes them liked by all. But they should 
always on such occasions preserve their dignity, 
nor go beyond the bounds of decorum. Others, 


again, get themselves out of difficulty quickest 
by a joke. For there are things you must take 
in fun, though others perhaps mean them in 
earnest. You show a sense of placability, 
which acts as a magnet on all hearts. 

Ixxx T^ake care to get Information. 

We live by information, not by sight. We 
exist by faith in others. The ear is the area- 
gate of truth but the front-door of lies. The 
truth is generally seen, rarely heard ; seldom 
she comes in elemental purity, especially from 
afar; there is always some admixture of the 
moods of those through whom she has passed. 
The passions tinge her with their colours 
wherever they touch her, sometimes favourably, 
sometimes the reverse. She always brings out 
the disposition, therefore receive her with 
caution from him that praises, with more 
caution from him that blames. Pay attention 
to the intention of the speaker ; you should 
know beforehand on what footing he comes. 
Let reflection assay falsity and exaggeration. 

Ixxxi Renew ^ our Brilliance. 

'Tis the privilege of the Phoenix. Ability is 
wont to grow old, and with it fame. The 



staleness of custom weakens admiration, and a 
mediocrity that's new often eclipses the highest 
excellence grown old. Try therefore to be 
born again in valour, in genius, in fortune, in 
all. Display startling novelties, rise afres-h like 
the sun every day. Change too the scene on 
which you shine, so that your loss may be felt 
in the old scenes of your triumph, while the 
novelty of your powers wins you applause in 
the new. 

Ixxxii Drain Nothing to the Dregs, neither Good 
nor III. 

A sage once reduced all virtue to the golden 
mean. Push right to the extreme and it 
becomes wrong : press all the juice from an 
orange and it becomes bitter. Even in enjoy- 
ment never go to extremes. Thought too 
subtle is dull. If you milk a cow too much 
you draw blood, not milk. 

Ixxxiii Allow Yourself some venial Fault. 

Some such carelessness is often the greatest 
recommendation of talent. For envy exercises 
ostracism, most envenomed when most polite. 
It counts it to perfection as a failing that it has 
no faults ; for being perfect in all it condemns 


it in all. It becomes an Argus, all eyes for 
imperfection : 'tis its only consolation. Blame 
is like the lightning ; it hits the highest. Let 
Homer nod now and then and affect some 
negligence in valour or in intellect — not in 
prudence — so as to disarm malevolence, or at 
least to prevent its bursting with its own venom. 
You thus leave your cloak on the horns of Envy 
in order to save your immortal parts. 

Ixxxiv Make use of your Enemies, 

You should learn to seize thmgs not by the 
blade, which cuts, but by the handle, which 
saves you from harm : especially is this the 
rule with the doings of your enemies. A wise 
man gets more use from his enemies than a fool 
from his friends. Their ill-will often levels 
mountains of difficulties which one would 
otherwise not face. Many have had their 
greatness made for them by their enemies. 
Flattery is more dangerous than hatred, because 
it covers the stains which the other causes to be 
wiped out. The wise will turn ill-will into 
a mirror more faithful than that of kindness, 
and remove or improve the faults referred to. 
Caution thrives well when rivalry and ill-will 
are next-door neighbours. 


Ixxxv Do not play Manille. 

It is a fault of excellence that being so much 
in use it is liable to abuse. Because all covet 
it, all are vexed by it. It is a great misfortune 
to be of use to nobody ; scarcely less to be of 
use to everybody. People who reach this stage 
lose by gaining, and at last bore those who 
desired them before. These Manilles wear 
away all kinds of excellence : losing the earlier 
esteem of the few, they obtain discredit among 
the vulgar. The remedy against this extreme 
is to moderate your brilliance. Be extra- 
ordinary in your excellence, if you like, but 
be ordinary in your display of it. The more 
light a torch gives, the more it burns away and 
the nearer 'tis to going out. Show yourself 
less and you will be rewarded by being esteemed 

Ixxxvi Prevent Scandal. 

Many heads go to make the mob, and in 
each of them are eyes for malice to use and a 
tongue for detraction to wag. If a single ill 
report spread, it casts a blemish on your fair 
fame, and if it clings to you with a nickname, 
your reputation is in danger. Generally it is 
some salient defect or ridiculous trait that 
gives rise to the rumours. At times these are 


malicious additions of private envy to general 
distrust. For there are wicked tongues that 
ruin a great reputation more easily by a witty 
sneer than by a direct accusation. It is easy 
to get into bad repute, because it is easy to 
believe evil of any one : it is not easy to clear 
yourself. The wise accordingly avoid these 
mischances, guarding against vulgar scandal 
with sedulous vigilance. It is far easier to 
prevent than to rectify. 

Ixxxvii Culture and Elegance. 

Man is born a barbarian, and only raises 
himself above the beast by culture. Culture 
therefore makes the man ; the more a man, the 
higher. Thanks to it, Greece could call the 
rest of the world barbarians. Ignorance is very 
raw ; nothing contributes so much to culture 
as knowledge. But even knowledge is coarse 
if without elegance. Not alone must our 
intelligence be elegant, but our desires, and 
above all our conversation. Some men are 
naturally elegant in internal and external 
qualities, in their thoughts, in their address, in 
their dress, which is the rind of the soul, and 
in their talents, which is its fruit. There are 
others, on the other hand, so gauche that every- 
thing about them, even their very excellences. 



is tarnished by an intolerable and barbaric 
want of neatness. 

Ixxxviii Let your Behaviour be Fine and Noble. 

A great man ought not to be little in his 
behaviour. He ought never to pry too minutely 
into things, least of all in unpleasant matters. 
For though it is important to know all, it is 
not necessary to know all about all. One 
ought to act in such cases with the generosity 
of a gentleman, conduct worthy of a gallant 
man. To overlook forms a large part of the 
work of ruling. Most things must be left 
unnoticed among relatives and friends, and even 
among enemies. All superfluity is annoying, 
especially in things that annoy. To keep 
hovering around the object or your annoyance 
is a kind of mania. Generally speaking, every 
man behaves according to his heart and his 

Ixxxix Knozv Yourself 

— in talents and capacity, in judgment and 
inclination. You cannot master yourself unless 
you know yourself. There are mirrors for the 
face but none for the mind. Let careful 
thought about yourself serve as a substitute. 


When the outer image is forgotten, keep the 
inner one to improve and perfect. Learn the 
force of your intellect and capacity for affairs, 
test the force of your courage in order to apply 
it, and keep your foundations secure and your 
head clear for everything. 

xc The Secret of Long Life 

Lead a good life. Two things bring life 
speedily to an end : folly and immorality. 
Some lose their life because they have not the 
intelligence to keep it, others because they 
have not the will. Just as virtue is its own 
reward, so is vice its own punishment. He 
who lives a fast life runs through life in a 
double sense. A virtuous life never dies. 
The firmness of the soul is communicated to 
the body, and a good life is long not only 
in intention but also in extension. 

xci Never set to work at anything if you have any 
doubts of its Prudence. 

A suspicion of failure in the mind of the 
doer is proof positive of it in that of the onlooker, 
especially if he is 3. rival. If in the heat of 
action your judgment feels scruples, it will after- 
wards in cool reflection condemn it as a piece 


of folly. Action is dangerous where prudence 
is in doubt : better leave such things alone. 
Wisdom does not trust to probabilities; it always 
marches in the mid-day light of reason. How 
can an enterprise succeed which the judgment 
condemns as soon as conceived ? And if 
resolutions passed nem. con. by inner court often 
turn out unfortunately, what can we expect 
of those undertaken by a doubting reason and 
a vacillating judgment ? 

xcii Transcendant Wisdom. 

I mean in everything. The first and highest 
rule of all deed and speech, the more necessary 
to be followed the higher and more numerous 
our posts, is : an ounce of wisdom is worth 
more than tons of cleverness. It is the only 
sure way, though it may not gain so much 
applause. The reputation of wisdom is the 
last triumph of fame. It is enough if you 
satisfy the wise, for their judgment is the touch- 
stone of true success. 

xciii Versatility. 

A man of many excellences equals many 
men. By imparting his own enjoyment of life 
to his circle he enriches their life. Variety in 


excellences is the delight of life. It is a great 
art to profit by all that is good, and since Nature 
has made man in his highest development an 
abstract of herself, so let Art create in him a 
true microcosm by training his taste and intel- 

xciv Keep the extent of your Abilities unknown. 

The wise man does not allow his knowledge 
and abilities to be sounded to the bottom, if he 
desires to be honoured by all. He allows you 
to know them but not to comprehend them. 
No one must know the extent of his abilities, 
lest he be disappointed. No one ever has an 
opportunity of fathoming him entirely. For 
guesses and doubts about the extent of his 
talents arouse more veneration than accurate 
knowledge of them, be they ever so great. 

xcv Keep Expectation alive. 

Keep stirring it up. Let much promise 
more, and great deeds herald greater. Do not 
rest your whole fortune on a single cast of the die. 
It requires great skill to moderate your forces 
so as to keep expectation from being dissipated. 

xcvi The highest Discretion. 
It is the throne of reason, the foundation of 


prudence : by its means success is gained at 
little cost. It is a gift from above, and should 
be prayed for as the first and best quality. 'Tis 
the main piece of the panoply, and so important 
that its absence makes a man imperfect, where- 
as with other qualities it is merely a question of 
more or less. All the actions of life depend 
on its application ; all require its assistance, for 
everything needs intelligence. Discretion con- 
sists in a natural tendency to the most rational 
course, combined with a liking for the surest. 

xcvii Obtain and preserve a Reputation. 

It is the usufruct of fame. It is expensive 
to obtain a reputation, for it only attaches to 
distinguished abilities, which are as rare as 
mediocrities are common. Once obtained, it 
is easily preserved. It confers many an 
obligation, but it does more. When it is owing 
to elevated powers or lofty spheres of action, it 
rises to a kind of veneration and yields a sort of 
majesty. But it is only a well-founded repu- 
tation that lasts permanently. 

xcviii Write your Intentions in Cypher, 

The passions are the gates of the soul. The 
most practical knowledge consists in disguising 



them. He that plays with cards exposed runs 
a risk of losing the stakes. The reserve of 
caution should combat the curiosity of 
inquirers : adopt the policy of the cuttlefish. 
Do not even let your tastes be known, lest 
others utilise them either by running counter 
to them or by flattering them. 

xcix Reality and Appearance. 

Things pass for what they seem, not for what 
they are. Few see inside ; many take to the 
outside. It is not enough to be right, if right 
seem false and ill. 

c A Man without Illusions, a wise Christian, a 
philosophic Courtier. 

Be all these, not merely seem to be them, 
still less afi^ect to be them. Philosophy is 
nowadays discredited, but yet it was always 
the chiefest concern of the wise. The art of 
thinking has lost all its former repute. Seneca 
introduced it at Rome : it went to court for 
some time, but now it is considered out of 
place there. And yet the discovery of deceit 
was always thought the true nourishment of a 
thoughtful mind, the true delight of a virtuous 


ci One half of the World laughs at the other , 
and Fools are they all. 

Everything is good or everything is bad 
according to the votes they gain. What one 
pursues another persecutes. He is an in- 
sufferable ass that would regulate everything 
according to his ideas. Excellences do not 
depend on a single man's pleasure. So many 
men, so many tastes, all different. There is 
no defect which is not affected by some, nor 
need we lose heart if things please not some, 
for others will appreciate them. Nor need 
their applause turn our head, tor there will 
surely be others to condemn. The real test 
of praise is the approbation of famous men and 
of experts in the matter. You should aim to 
be independent of any one vote, of any one 
fashion, of any one century. 

cii Be able to stomach big slices of Luck. 

In the body of wisdom not the least import- 
ant organ is a big stomach, for great capacity 
implies great parts. Big bits of luck do not 
embarrass one who can digest still bigger ones. 
What is a surfeit for one may be hunger for 
another. Many are troubled as it were with 
weak digestion, owing to their small capacity 


being neither born nor trained for great employ- 
ment. Their actions turn sour, and the 
humours that arise from their undeserved 
honours turn their head and they incur great 
risks in high place : they do not find their 
proper place, for luck finds no proper place in 
them. A man of talent therefore should show 
that he has more room for even greater enter- 
prises, and above all avoid showing signs of a 
little heart. 

ciii Let each keep up his Dignity. 

Let each deed of a man in its degree, though 
he be not a king, be worthy of a prince, and 
let his action be princely within due limits. 
Sublime in action, lofty in thought, in all things 
like a king, at least in merit if not in might. 
For true kingship lies in spotless rectitude, and 
he need not tnvy greatness who can serve as a 
model of it. Especially should those near the 
throne aim at true superiority, and prefer to 
share the true qualities of royalty rather than 
take parts in its mere ceremonies, yet without 
affecting its imperfections but sharing in its true 

civ Try ;^our hand at Office. 

It requires varied qualities, and to know which 
is needed taxes attention and calls for masterly 


discernment. Some demand courage, others 
tact. Those that merely require rectitude are 
the easiest, the most difficult those requiring 
cleverness. For the former all that is necessary 
is character ; for the latter all one's attention 
and zeal may not suffice. 'Tis a troublesome 
business to rule men, still more fools or block- 
heads : double sense is needed with those who 
have none. It is intolerable when an office 
engrosses a man with fixed hours and a settled 
routine. Those are better that leave a man 
free to follow his own devices, combining 
variety with importance, for the change re- 
freshes the mind. The most in repute are 
those that have least or most distant depend- 
ence on others ; the worst is that which worries 
us both here and hereafter. 

cv DoT^t be a Bore. 

The man of one business or of one topic is 
apt to be heavy. Brevity flatters and does 
better business ; it gains by courtesy what it 
loses by curtness. Good things, when short, 
are twice as good. The quintessence of the 
matter is more effective than a whole farrago 
of details. It is a well-known truth that talk- 
ative folk rarely have much sense whether in 
dealing with the matter itself or its formal 


treatment. There are that serve more for 
stumbling-stones than centrepieces, useless 
lumber in every one's way. The w^ise avoid 
being bores, especially to the great, who are 
fully occupied : it is worse to disturb one of 
them than all the rest. Well said is soon said. 

cvi Do not parade your Position. 

To outshine in dignity is more offensive 
than in personal attractions. To pose as a 
personage is to be hated : envy is surely enough. 
The more you seek esteem the less you obtain 
It, for it depends on the opinion of others. 
You cannot take it, but must earn and receive 
it from others. Great positions require an 
amount of authority sufficient to make them 
efficient : without it they cannot be adequately 
filled. Preserve therefore enough dignity to 
carry on the duties of the office. Do not 
enforce respect, but try and create it. Those 
who insist on the dignity of their office, show 
they have not deserved it, and that it is too 
much for them. If you wish to be valued, 
be valued for your talents, not for anything 
adventitious. Even kings prefer to be hon- 
oured for their personal qualifications rather 
than for their station. 


cvii Show no Self-satisfaction. 

You must neither be discontented with your- 
self — and that were poor-spirited — nor self- 
satisfied — and that is folly. Self-satisfaction 
arises mostly from, ignorance : it would be a 
happy ignorance not without its advantages it 
It did not injure our credit. Because a man 
cannot achieve the superlative perfections of 
others, he contents himself with any mediocre 
talent of his own. Distrust is wise, and even 
useful, either to evade mishaps or to afford con- 
solation when they come, for a misfortune can- 
not surprise a man who has already feared it. 
Even Homer nods at times, and Alexander fell 
from his lofty state and out of his illusions. 
Things depend on many circumstances : what 
constitutes triumph in one set may cause a 
defeat in another. In the midst of all incor- 
rigible folly remains the same with empty self- 
satisfaction, blossoming, flowering, and running 
all to seed. 

cviii The Path to Greatness is along with Others. 

Intercourse works well : manners and taste 
are shared : good sense and even talent grow 
insensibly. Let the sanguine man then make a 
comrade of the lymphatic, and so with the other 



temperaments, so that without any forcing the 
golden mean is obtained. It is a great art to 
agree with others. The alternation of con- 
traries beautifies and sustains the world : if it 
can cause harmony in the physical world, still 
more can it do so in the moral. Adopt this 
policy in the choice of friends and defendants ; 
by joining extremes the more effective middle 
way is found. 

cix Be not Censorious. 

There are men of gloomy character who 
regard everything as faulty, not from any evil 
motive but because it is their nature to. They 
condemn all : these for what they have done, 
those for what they will do. This indicates a 
nature worse than cruel, vile indeed. They 
accuse with such exaggeration that they make 
out of motes beams wherewith to force out the 
eyes. They are always taskmasters who could 
turn a paradise into a prison ; if passion inter- 
venes they drive matters to the extreme. A 
noble nature, on the contrary, always knows 
how to find an excuse for failings, if not in the 
intention, at least from oversight. 

ex Do fiot wait till you are a Sinking Sun. 
'Tis a maxim of the wise to leave things 


before things leave them. One should be able 
to snatch a triumph at the end, just as the sun 
even at its brightest often retires behind a 
cloud so as not to be seen sinking, and to leave 
in doubt whether he has sunk or no. Wisely 
withdraw from the chance of mishaps, lest you 
have to do so from the reality Do not wait 
till they turn you the cold shoulder and carry 
you to the grave, alive in feeling but dead 
in esteem. Wise trainers put racers to grass 
before they arouse derision by falling on the 
course. A beauty should break her mirror 
early, lest she do so later with open eyes. 

cxi Have Friends. 

'Tis a second existence. Every friend is 
good and wise for his friend : among them all 
everything turns to good. Every one is as 
others wish him; that they may wish him 
well, he must win their hearts and so their 
tongues. There is no magic like a good turn, 
and the way to gain friendly feelings is to 
do friendly acts. The most and best of us 
depend on others ; we have to live either 
among friends or among enemies. Seek some 
one every day to be a well-wisher if not a 
friend ; by and by after trial some of these 
will become intimate. 


cxii Gain Good-will. 

For thus the first and highest cause foresees and 
furthers the greatest objects. By gaining their 
good-will you gain men's good opinion. Some 
trust so much to merit that they neglect grace, 
but wise men know that Service Road without 
a lift from favour is a long way indeed. Good- 
will facilitates and supplies everything : it 
supposes gifts or even supplies them, as courage, 
zeal, knowledge, or even discretion ; whereas 
defects it will not see because it does not search 
for them. It arises from some common interest, 
either material, as disposition, nationality, rela- 
tionship, fatherland, office ; or formal, which 
is of a higher kind of communion, in capacity, 
obligation, reputation, or merit. The whole 
difficulty is to gain good-will ; to keep it is 
easy. It has, however, to be sought for, and, 
when found, to be utilised. 

cxiii /;/ Prosperity prepare for Adversity. 

It is both wiser and easier to collect winter 
stores in summer. In prosperity favours are 
cheap and friends are many. 'Tis well there- 
fore to keep them for more unlucky days, for 
adversity costs dear and has no helpers. Retain 
a store of friendly and obliged persons ; the 


day may come when their price will go up. 
Low minds never have friends ; in luck they 
will not recognise them : in misfortune they 
will not be recognised by them. 

cxiv Never Compete, 

Every competition damages the credit : our 
rivals seize occasion to obscure us so as to out- 
shine us. Few wage honourable war. Rivalry 
discloses faults which courtesy would hide. 
Many have lived in good repute while they had 
no rivals. The heat of conflict gives life, or 
even new life, to dead scandals, and digs up long- 
buried skeletons. Competition begins with be- 
littling, and seeks aid wherever it can, not 
only where it ought. And when the weapons 
of abuse do not effect their purpose, as often or 
mostly happens, our opponents use them for 
revenge, and use them at least for beating 
away the dust of oblivion from anything to our 
discredit. Men of good-will are always at 
peace ; men of good repute and dignity are 
men of good-will. 

cxv Get used to the Failings of your Familiars^ 

as you do to ugly faces. It is indispensable 
if they depend on us, or we on them. There 


are wretched characters with whom one cannot 
live, nor yet without them. Therefore clever 
folk get used to them, as to ugly faces, so that 
they are not obliged to do so suddenly under 
the pressure of necessity. At first they arouse 
disgust, but gradually they lose this influence, 
and reflection provides for disgust or puts up 
with it. 

cxvi Only act with Honourable Men. 

You can trust them and they you. Their 
honour is the best surety of their behaviour even 
in misunderstandings, for they always act having 
regard to what they are. Hence 'tis better to 
have a dispute with honourable people than to 
have a victory over dishonourable ones. You 
cannot treat with the ruined, for they have no 
hostages for rectitude. With them there is no 
true friendship, and their agreements are not 
binding, however stringent they may appear, 
because they have no feeling of honour. Never 
have to do with such men, for if honour does 
not restrain a man, virtue will not, since honour 
is the throne of rectitude. 

cxvii Never talk of Yourself. 

You must either praise yourself, which is 
vain, or blame yourself, which is little-minded : 


it ill beseems him that speaks, and ill pleases 
him that hears. And if you should avoid this 
in ordinary conversation, how much more in 
official matters, and above all, in public speaking, 
where every appearance of unwisdom really is 
unwise. The same want of tact lies in speaking 
of a man in his presence, owing to the danger 
of going to one of two extremes : flattery or 

cxviii Acquire the Reputation of Courtesy ; 

for it is enough to make you liked. Polite- 
ness is the main ingredient of culture, — a kind 
of witchery that wins the regard of all as surely 
as discourtesy gains their disfavour and opposi- 
tion ; if this latter springs from pride, it is 
abominable ; if from bad breeding, it is despic- 
able. Better too much courtesy than too little, 
provided it be not the same for all, which 
degenerates into injustice. Between opponents 
it is especially due as a proof of valour. It 
costs little and helps much : every one is 
honoured who gives honour. Politeness and 
honour have this advantage, that they renjain 
with him who displays them to others. 


cxix Avoid becoming Disliked. 

There is no occasion to seek dislike : it 
comes without seeking quickly enough. There 
are many who hate of their own accord with- 
out knowing the why or the how. Their ill- 
will outruns our readiness to please. Their 
ill-nature is more prone to do others harm 
than their cupidity is eager to gain advantage 
for themselves. Some manage to be on bad 
terms with all, because they always either pro- 
duce or experience vexation of spirit. Once 
hate has taken root it is, like bad repute, dit- 
ficult to eradicate. Wise men are feared, the 
malevolent are abhorred, the arrogant are re- 
garded with disdain, buffoons with contempt, 
eccentrics with neglect. Therefore pay respect 
that you may be respected, and know that to 
be esteemed you must show esteem, 

cxx Live Practically. 

Even knowledge has to be in the fashion, 
and where it is not it is wise to affect ignor- 
ance. Thought and taste change with the 
times. Do not be old-fashioned in your ways 
of thinking, and let your taste be in the 
modern style. In everything the taste of the 
many carries the votes ; for the time being 


one must follow it in the hope of leading it to 
higher things. In the adornment of the body 
as of the mind adapt yourself to the present, 
even though the past appear better. But this 
rule does not apply to kindAess, for goodness is 
for all time. It is neglected nowadays and 
seems out of date. Truth-speaking, keeping 
your word, and so too good people, seem to 
come from the good old times : yet they are 
liked for all that, but in such a way that even 
when they all exist they are not in the fashion 
and are not imitated. What a misfortune 
for our age that it regards virtue as a stranger 
and vice as a matter of course ! If you are 
wise, live as you can, if you cannot live as you 
would. Think more highly of what fate has 
given you than of what it has denied. 

cxxi Do not make a Business of what is no 

As some make gossip out of everything, so 
others business. They always talk big, take 
everything in earnest, and turn it into a dis- 
pute or a secret. Troublesome things must 
not be taken too seriously if they can be avoided. 
It is preposterous to take to heart that which 
you should throw over your shoulders. Much 
that would be something has become nothing by 


being left alone, and what was nothing has be- 
come of consequence by being made much of. 
At the outset things can be easily settled, but 
not afterwards. Often the remedy causes the 
disease. 'Tis by no means the least of life's 
rules : to let things alone. 

cxxii Distinction in Speech and Action. 

By this you gain a position in many places 
and carry esteem beforehand. It shows itself 
m everything, in talk, in look, even in gait. 
It is a great victory to conquer men's hearts : 
it does not arise from any foolish presumption 
or pompous talk, but in a becoming tone of 
authority born of superior talent combined 
with true merit. 

cxxiii Avoid Affectation. 

The more merit, the less affectation, which 
gives a vulgar flavour to all. It is wearisome 
to others and troublesome to the one affected, 
for he becomes a martyr to care and tortures 
himself with attention. The most eminent 
merits lose most by it, for they appear proud 
and artificial instead of being the product of 
nature, and the natural is always more pleasing 
than the artificial. One always feels sure that 


the man who affects a virtue has it not. The 
more pains you take with a thing, the more 
should you conceal them, so that it may appear 
to arise spontaneously from your own natural 
character. Do not, however, in avoiding affect- 
ation fall into it by affecting to be unaffected. 
The sage never seems to know his own merits, 
for only by not noticing them can you call 
others' attention to them. He is twice great 
who has all the perfections in the opinion of all 
except of himself; he attains applause by two 
opposite paths. 

cxxiv Get Yourself missed. 

Few reach such favour with the many ; if 
with the wise 'tis the height of happiness. 
When one has finished one's work, coldness 
is the general rule. But there are ways of 
earning this reward of goodwill. The sure 
way is to excel in your office and talents : add 
to this agreeable manner and you reach the 
point where you become necessary to your 
office, not your office to you. Some do honour 
to their post, with others 'tis the other way. It 
is no great gain if a poor successor makes the 
predecessor seem good, for this does not imply 
that the one is missed, but that the other is 
wished away. 


cxxv Do not be a Black List. 

It is a sign of having a tarnished name to 
concern oneself with the ill-fame of others. 
Some wish to hide their own stains with those 
of others, or at least wash them away : or 
they seek consolation therein — 'tis the con- 
solation of fools. They must have bad breath 
who form the sewers of scandal for the whole 
town. The more one grubs about in such 
matters, the more one befouls oneself. There 
are few without stain somewhere or other, but 
it is of little known people that the failings are 
little known. Be careful then to avoid being 
a registrar of faults. That is to be an abomin- 
able thing, a man that lives without a heart. 

cxxvi Folly consists not in committing Folly^ hut 
in not hiding it when committed. 

You should keep your desires sealed up, still 
more your defects. All go wrong sometimes, 
but the wise try to hide the errors, but fools 
boast of them. Reputation depends more on 
what is hidden than on what is done ; if a 
man does not live chastely, he must live 
cautiously. The errors of great men are like 
the eclipses of the greater lights. Even in 
friendship it is rare to expose one's failings 


to one's friend. Nay, one should conceal them 
from oneself if one can. But here one can 
help with that other great rule of life : learn 
to forget. 

cxxvii Grace in Everything, 

'Tis the life of talents, the breath of speech, 
the soul of action, and the ornament of orna- 
ment. Perfections are the adornment of our 
nature, but this is the adornment of perfection 
itself. It shows itself even in the thoughts. 
'Tis most a gift of nature and owes least to 
education ; it even triumphs over training. It 
is more than ease, approaches the free and easy, 
gets over embarrassment, and adds the finish- 
ing touch to perfection. Without it beauty is 
lifeless, graciousness ungraceful : it surpasses 
valour, discretion, prudence, even majesty it- 
self. 'Tis a short way to dispatch and an easy 
escape from embarrassment. 

cxxviii Highmindedness, 

One of the principal qualifications tor a 
gentleman, for it spurs on to all kinds of 
nobility. It improves the taste, ennobles the 
heart, elevates the mind, refines the feelings, 
and intensifies dignity. It raises him in whom 



it is found, and at times remedies the bad 
turns of Fortune, which only raises by striking. 
It can find full scope in the will when it 
cannot be exercised in act. Magnanimity, 
generosity, and all heroic qualities recognise 
in it their source. 

xxix Never complain. 

To complain always brings discredit. Better 
be a model of self-reliance opposed to the 
passion of others than an object of their com- 
passion. For it opens the way for the hearer 
to what we are complaining of, and to disclose 
one insult forms an excuse for another. By 
complaining of past offences we give occasion 
•for future ones, and in seeking aid or counsel 
we only obtain indifference or contempt. It is 
much more politic to praise one man's favours, 
so that others may feel obliged to follow suit. 
To recount the favours we owe the absent is to 
demand similar ones from the present, and thus 
we sell our credit with the one to the other. 
The shrewd will therefore never publish to 
the world his failures or his defects, but only 
those marks of consideration which serve to 
keep friendship alive and enmity silent. 


cxxx Do and be seen Doing, 

Things do not pass for what they are but 
for what they seem. To be of use and to 
know how to show yourself of use, is to be 
twice as useful. What is not seen is as if it 
was not. Even the Right does not receive 
proper consideration if it does not seem right. 
The observant are far fewer in number than 
those who are deceived by appearances. Deceit 
rules the roast, and things are judged by their 
jackets, and many things are other than they 
seem. A good exterior is the best recom- 
mendation of the inner perfection. 

cxxxi Nohility of Feeling. 

There is a certain distinction of the soul, a 
highmindedness prompting to gallant acts, that 
gives an air of grace to the whole character. It 
is not found often, for it presupposes great mag- 
nanimity. Its chief characteristic is to speak 
well of an enemy, and to act even better to- 
wards him. It shines brightest when a chance 
comes of revenge : not alone does it let the 
occasion pass, but it improves it by using a 
complete victory in order to display unexpected 
generosity. 'Tis a fine stroke of policy, nay, 
the very acme of statecraft. It makes no pre- 



tence to victory, for it pretends to nothing, and 
while obtaining its deserts it conceals its 

cxxxii Revise your Judgments. 

To appeal to an inner Court of Revision 
makes things safe. Especially when the course 
of action is not clear, you gain time either to 
confirm or improve your decision. It affords 
new grounds for strengthening or corroborating 
your judgment. And if it is a matter of 
giving, the gift is the more valued from its 
being evidently well considered than for being 
promptly bestowed : long expected is highest 
prized. And if you have to deny, you gain 
time to decide how and when to mature the 
No that it may be made palatable. Besides, 
after the first heat of desire is passed the repulse 
of refusal is felt less keenly in cold blood. 
But especially when men press for a reply is it 
best to defer it, for as often as not that is only 
a feint to disarm attention. 

cxxxiii Better Mad with the rest of the World 
than Wise alone. 

So say politicians. If all are so, one is no 
worse off than the rest, whereas solitary wisdom 
passes for folly. So important is it to sail with 


the stream. The greatest wisdom often con- 
sists in ignorance, or the pretence of it. One 
has to live with others, and others are mostly- 
ignorant. " To live entirely alone one must 
be very like a god or quite like a wild beast," 
but I would turn the aphorism by saying : 
Better be wise with the many than a fool all 
alone. There be some too who seek to be 
original by seeking chimeras. 

cxxxiv Double ^our Resources. 

You thereby double your life. One must 
not depend on one thing or trust to only one 
resource, however pre-eminent. Everything 
should be kept double, especially the causes of 
success, of favour, or of esteem. The moon's 
mutability transcends everything and gives a limit 
to all existence, especially of things dependent 
on human will, the most brittle of all things. 
To guard against this inconstancy should be 
the sage's care, and for this the chief rule of 
life is to keep a double store of good and 
useful qualities. Thus as Nature gives us in 
duplicate the most important of our limbs and 
those most exposed to risk, so Art should deal 
with the qualities on which we depend for 



cxxxv Do not nourish the Spirit of Contradiction. 

It only proves you foolish or peevish, and 
prudence should guard against this strenuously. 
To find difficulties in everything may prove 
you clever, but such wrangling writes you 
down a fool. Such folk make a mimic war 
out of the most pleasant conversation, and in 
this way act as enemies towards their associates 
rather than towards those with whom they do 
not consort. Grit grates most in delicacies, and 
so does contradiction in amusement. They 
are both foolish and cruel who yoke together 
the wild beast and the tame. 

cxxxvi Post Yourself in the Centre of Things. 

So you feel the pulse of affairs. Many lose 
their way either in the ramifications of useless 
discussion or in the brushwood of wearisome 
verbosity without ever realising the real matter 
at issue. They go over a single point a hun- 
dred times, wearying themselves and others, and 
yet never touch the all -important centre or 
affairs. This comes from a confusion of mind 
from which they cannot extricate themselves. 
They waste time and patience on matters they 
should leave alone, and cannot spare them 
afterwards for what they have left alone. 


cxxxvii The Sage should be Self-sufficing 

He that was all in all to himself carried ail 
with him when he carried himself. If a uni- 
versal friend can represent to us Rome and the 
rest of the world, let a man be his own universal 
friend, and then he is in a position to live alone. 
Whom could such a man want if there is no 
clearer intellect or finer taste than his own ? 
He would then depend on himself alone, which 
is the highest happiness and like the Supreme 
Being. He that can live alone resembles the 
bru.te beast in nothing, the sage in much and 
God in everything. 

cxxxviii The Art of letting Things alone. 

The more so the wilder the waves of public 
or of private life. There are hurricanes in 
human affairs, tempests of passion, when it is 
wise to retire to a harbour and ride at anchor. 
Remedies often make diseases worse : in such 
cases one has to leave them to their natural 
course and the moral suasion of time. It takes 
a wise doctor to know when not to prescribe, 
and at times the greater skill consists in not 
applying remedies. The proper way to still 
the storms of the vulgar is to hold your hand 
and let them calm down of themselves. To 



give way now is to conquer by and by. A 
fountain gets muddy with but little stirring up, 
and does not get clear by our meddling with it 
but by our leaving it alone. The best remedy 
for disturbances is to let them run their course, 
for so they quiet down. 

cxxxix Recognise unlucky Days. 

They exist : nothing goes well on them ; 
even though the game may be changed the ill- 
luck remains. Two tries should be enough to 
tell if one is in luck to-day or not. Every- 
thing is in process of change, even the mind, 
and no one is always wise : chance has some- 
thing to say, even how to write a good letter. 
All perfection turns on the time ; even beauty 
has its hours. Even wisdom fails at times by 
doing too much or too little. To turn out 
well a thing must be done on its own day. 
This is why with some everything turns out 
ill, with others all goes well, even with less 
trouble. They find everything ready, their 
wit prompt, their presiding genius favourable, 
their lucky star in the ascendant. At such 
times one must seize the occasion and not 
throw away the slightest chance. But a 
shrewd person will not decide on the day's 


luck by a single piece of good or bad fortune, 
for the one may be only a lucky chance and 
the other only a slight annoyance. 

cxl Find the Good in a Thing at once, 

'Tis the advantage of good taste. The bee 
goes to the honey for her comb, the serpent 
to the gall for its venom. So with taste : 
some seek the good, others the ill. There is 
nothing that has no good in it, especially in 
books, as giving food for thought. But many 
have such a scent that amid a thousand excel- 
lences they fix upon a single defect, and single 
it out for blame as if they were scavengers of 
men's minds and hearts. So they draw up a 
balance sheet of defects which does more credit 
to their bad taste than to their intelligence. 
They lead a sad life, nourishing themselves 
on bitters and battening on garbage. They 
have the luckier taste who midst a thousand 
defects seize upon a single beauty they may 
have hit upon by chance. 

cxli Do not listen to Yourself, 

It is no use pleasing yourself if you do not 
please others, and as a rule general contempt 
is the punishment for self-satisfaction. The 


attention you pay to yourself you probably owe 
to others. To speak and at the same time listen 
to yourself cannot turn out well. If to talk to 
oneself when alone is folly, it must be doubly 
unwise to listen to oneself in the presence of 
others. It is a weakness of the great to talk 
with a recurrent " as I was saying" and " eh ? " 
which bewilders their hearers. At every sen- 
tence they look for applause or flattery, taxing 
the patience of the wise. So too the pompous 
speak with an echo, and as their talk can only 
totter on with the aid of stilts, at every word 
they need the support of a stupid " bravo ! " 

cxlii Never from Obstinacy take the Wrong Bide 

because your Opponent has anticipated ^ou in 

taking the Right One. 

You begin the fight already beaten and 
must soon take to flight in disgrace. With 
bad weapons one can never win. It was 
astute in the opponent to seize the better side 
first : it would be folly to come lagging after 
with the worst. Such obstinacy is more 
dangerous in actions than in words, for action 
encounters more risk than talk. 'Tis the 
common failing of the obstinate that they lose 
the true by contradicting it, and the useful by 


quarrelling with it. The sage never places 
himself on the side of passion, but espouses the 
cause of right, either discovering it first or 
improving it later. If the enemy is a fool, he 
will in such a case turn round to follow the 
opposite and worse way. Thus the only way 
to drive him from the better course is to take 
it yourself, for his folly will cause him to 
desert it, and his obstinacy be punished for 8o 

cxliii Never become Paradoxical in order to 
avoid the Trite. 

Both extremes damage our reputation. 
Every undertaking which differs from the 
reasonable approaches foolishness. The para- 
dox is a cheat : it wins applause at first by 
its novelty and piquancy, but afterwards it 
becomes discredited when the deceit is fore- 
seen and its emptiness becomes apparent. 
It is a species of jugglery, and in matters 
political would be the ruin of states. Those 
who cannot or dare not reach great deeds 
on the direct road of excellence go round 
by way of Paradox, admired by fools but 
making wise men true prophets. It argues 
an unbalanced judgment, and if it is not 


altogether based on the false, it is certainly 
founded on the uncertain, and risks the 
weightier matters of life. 

cxliv Begin with Another's to end with your Own. 

'Tis a politic means to your end. Even in 
heavenly matters Christian teachers lay stress 
on this holy cunning. It is a weighty piece 
of dissimulation, for the foreseen advantages 
serve as a lure to influence the other's will. 
His affair seems to be in train when it is really 
only leading the way for another's. One 
should never advance unless under cover, 
especially where the ground is dangerous. 
Likewise with persons who always say No at 
first, it is useful to ward off this blow, because 
the difficulty of conceding much more does 
not occur to them when your version is pre- 
sented to them. This advice belongs to the 
rule about second thoughts [xiii], which covers 
the most subtle manoeuvres of life. 

cxlv Do not show your zuounded Finger, 

for everything will knock up against it ; nor 
complain about it, for malice always aims where 
weakness can be injured. It is no use to be 
vexed : being the butt of the talk will only vex 


you the more. Ill-will searches for wounds 
to irritate, aims darts to try the temper, and tries 
a thousand ways to sting to the quick. The 
wise never own to being hit, or disclose any 
evil, whether personal or hereditary. For even 
Fate sometimes likes to wound us where we 
are most tender. It always mortifies wounded 
flesh. Never therefore disclose the source 
of mortification or of joy, if you wish the one 
to cease, the other to endure. 

cxlvi Look into the Interior of Things, 

Things are generally other than they seem, 
and ignorance that never looks beneath the rind 
becomes disabused when you show the kernel. 
Lies always come first, dragging fools along 
by their irreparable vulgarity. Truth always 
lags last, limping along on the arm of Time. 
The wise therefore reserve for it the other 
half of that power which the common mother 
has wisely given in duplicate. Deceit is very 
superficial, and the superficial therefore easily 
fall into it. Prudence lives retired within its 
recesses, visited only by sages and wise men. 

cxlvii Do not be Inaccessible, 
None is so perfect that he does not need 


at times the advice of others. He is an in- 
corrigible ass who will never listen to any one. 
Even the most surpassing intellect should find 
a place for friendly counsel. Sovereignty itself 
must learn to lean. There are some that are 
incorrigible simply because they are inaccess- 
sible : they fall to ruin because none dares 
to extricate them. The highest should have 
the door open for friendship ; it may prove 
the gate of help. A friend must be free to 
advise, and even to upbraid, without feeling 
embarrassed. Our satisfaction in him and our 
trust in his steadfast faith give him that power. 
One need not pay respect or give credit to every 
one, but in the innermost of his precaution 
man has a true mirror of a confidant to whom 
he owes the correction of his errors, and has to 
thank for it. 

cxlviii Have the Art of Conversation, 

That is where the real personality shows 
Itself. No act in life requires more attention, 
though it be the commonest thing in life. 
You must either lose or gain by it. If it 
needs care to write a letter which is but 
a deliberate and written conversation, how 
much more the ordinary kind in which there 


is occasion for a prompt display of intelligence ? 
Experts feel the pulse of the soul in the tongue, 
wherefore the sage said, " Speak, that I may 
know thee." Some hold that the art of con- 
versation is to be without art — that it should be 
neat, not gaudy, like the garments. This holds 
good for talk between friends. But when 
held with persons to whom one would show 
respect, it should be more dignified to answer 
to the dignity of the person addressed. To be 
appropriate it should adapt itself to the mind 
and tone of the interlocutor. And do not be 
a critic of words, or you will be taken for a 
pedant ; nor a taxgatherer of ideas, or men will 
avoid you, or at least sell their thoughts dear. 
In conversation discretion is more important 
than eloquence. 

cxlix Know how to put off Ills on Others, 

To have a shield against ill-will is a great 
piece of skill in a ruler. It is not the resort 
of incapacity, as ill-wishers imagine, but is due 
to the higher policy of having some one to 
receive the censure of the disaffected and the 
punishment of universal detestation. Every- 
thing cannot turn out well, nor can every one 
be satisfied : it is well therefore, even at the 


cost of our pride, to have such a scapegoat, such 
a target for unlucky undertakings. 

cl Know to get your Price for Things. 

Their intrinsic value is not sufficient ; for all 
do not bite at the kernel or look into the interior. 
Most go with the crowed, and go because they 
see others go. It is a great stroke of art to bring 
things into repute ; at times by praising them, 
for praise arouses desire ; at times by giving 
them a striking name, which is very useful 
for putting things at a premium, provided it 
is done without affectation. Again, it is gener- 
ally an inducement to profess to supply only 
connoisseurs, for all think themselves such, and 
if not, the sense of want arouses the desire. 
Never call things easy or common : that 
makes them depreciated rather than made 
accessible. All rush after the unusual, which 
is more appetising both for the taste and for 
the intelligence. 

cli Think beforehand. 

To-day for to-morrow, and even for many 
days hence. The greatest foresight consists in 
determining beforehand the time of trouble. 
For the provident there are no mischances and 


for the careful no narrow escapes. We must 
not put off thought till we are up to the chin 
in mire. Mature reflection can get over the 
most formidable difficulty. The pillow is a 
silent Sibyl, and it is better to sleep on things 
beforehand than lie awake about them after- 
wards. Many act first and then think after- 
wards — that is, they think less of consequences 
than of excuses : others think neither before nor 
after. The whole of life should be one course 
of thought how not to miss the right path. 
Rumination and foresight enable one to deter- 
mine the line of life. 

ciii Never have a Companion who casts you in 
the Shade. 

The more he does so, the less desirable a 
companion he is. The more he excels in 
quality the more in repute : he will always 
play first fiddle and you second. If you get 
any consideration, it is only his leavings. The 
moon shines bright alone among the stars : 
when the sun rises she becomes either invisible 
or imperceptible. Never join one that eclipses 
you, but rather one who sets you in a brighter 
light. By this means the cunning Fabula in 
Martial was able to appear beautiful and 


brilliant, owing to the ugliness and disorder of 
her companions. But one should as little im- 
peril oneself by an evil companion as pay 
honour to another at the cost of one's own 
credit. When you are on the way to fortune 
associate with the eminent ; when arrived, with 
the mediocre. 

cliii Beware of entering where there is a great 
Gap to be filled. 

But if you do it be sure to surpass your pre- 
decessor ; merely to equal him requires twice 
his worth. As it is a fine stroke to arrange 
that our successor shall cause us to be wished 
back, so it is policy to see that our predecessor 
does not eclipse us. To fill a great gap is 
difficult, for the past always seems best, and to 
equal the predecessor is not enough, since he 
has the right of first possession. You must 
therefore possess additional claims to oust the 
other from his hold on public opinion. 

cliv Do not Believe^ or Like^ lightly. 

Maturity of mind is best shown in slow 
belief. Lying is the usual thing ; then let 
belief be unusual. He that is lightly led 
away, soon falls into contempt. At the same 


time there is no necessity to betray your doubts 
in the good faith of others, for this adds insult 
to discourtesy, since you make out your in- 
formant to be either deceiver or deceived. 
Nor is this the only evil : want of belief is the 
mark of the liar, vsrho suffers from two failings : 
he neither believes nor is believed. Suspen- 
sion of judgment is prudent in a hearer : the 
speaker can appeal to his original source of in- 
formation. There is a similar kind of impru- 
dence in liking too easily, for lies may be told 
by deeds as well as in words, and this deceit is 
more dangerous for practical life. 

civ The Art of getting into a Passion. 

If possible, oppose vulgar importunity with 
prudent reflection ; it will not be difficult for 
a really prudent man. The first step towards 
getting into a passion is to announce that you 
are in a passion. By this means you begin the 
conflict with command over your temper, for 
one has to regulate one's passion to the exact 
point that is necessary and no further. This is 
the art of arts in falling into and getting out of 
a rage. You should know how and when best 
to come to a stop : it is most difficult to halt 
while running at the double. It is a great 


proof of wisdom to remain clear-sighted during 
paroxysms of rage. Every excess of passion is 
a digression from rational conduct. But by 
this masterly policy reason will never be trans- 
gressed, nor pass the bounds of its own 
synteresis. To keep control of passion one 
must hold firm the reins of attention : he who 
can do so will be the first man " wise on horse- 
back," and probably the last. 

clvi Select your Friends. 

Only after passing the matriculation of ex- 
perience and the examination of fortune will 
they be graduates not alone in afi^ection but in 
discernment. Though this is the most important 
thing in life, it is the one least cared for. 
Intelligence brings friends to some, chance to 
most. Yet a man is judged by his friends, for 
there was never agreement between wise men 
and fools. At the same time, to find pleasure 
in a man's society is no proof of near friend- 
ship : it may come from the pleasantness of his 
company more than from trust in his capacity. 
There are some friendships legitimate, others 
illicit ; the latter for pleasure, the former 
for their fecundity of ideas and motives. Few 
are the friends of a man's self, most those of 


his circumstances. The insight of a true 
friend is more useful than the goodwill of 
others : therefore gain them by choice, not by 
chance. A wise friend wards off worries, a 
foolish one brings them about. But do not 
wish them too much luck, or you may lose them. 

clvii Do not make Mistakes about Character. 

That is the worst and yet easiest error. 
Better be cheated in the price than in the 
quality of goods. In dealing with men, more 
than with other things, it is necessary to look 
within. To know men is different from 
knowing things. It is profound philosophy to 
sound the depths of feeling and distinguish 
traits of character. Men must be studied as 
deeply as books. 

clviii Make use of your Friends. 

This requires all the art of discretion. 
Some are good afar off, some when near. 
Many are no good at conversation but excel- 
lent as correspondents, for distance removes 
some failings which are unbearable in close 
proximity to them. Friends are for use even 
more than for pleasure, for they have the three 
qualities of the Good, or, as some say, of Being 


'm general : unity, goodness, and truth. For 
a friend is all in all. Few are worthy to be 
good friends, and even these become fewer 
because men do not know how to pick them 
out. To keep is more important than to 
make friends. Select those that will wear 
well ; if they are new at first, it is some 
consolation they will become old. Absolutely 
the best are those well salted, though they may 
require soaking in the testing. There is no 
desert like living without friends. Friendship 
multiplies the good of life and divides the 
evil. 'Tis the sole remedy against misfortune, 
the very ventilation of the soul. 

clix Put up with Fools. 

The wise are always impatient, for he that 
increases knowledge increase impatience of 
folly. Much knowledge is difficult to satisfy. 
The first great rule of life, according to 
Epictetus, is to put up with things : he makes 
that the moiety of wisdom. To put up with all 
the varieties of folly would need much patience. 
We often have to put up with most from those 
on whom we most depend : a useful lesson in 
self-control. Out of patience comes forth 
peace, the priceless boon which is the happiness 


of the world. But let him that hath no power 
of patience retire within himself, though even 
there he will have to put up with himself. 

clx Be careful in Speaking. 

With your rivals from prudence ; with 
others for the sake of appearance. There 
is always time to add a word, never to with- 
draw one. Talk as if you were making your 
will : the fewer words the less litigation. In 
trivial matters exercise yourself for the more 
weighty matters of speech. Profound secrecy 
has some of the lustre of the divine. He who 
speaks lightly soon falls or fails. 

clxi Know your pet Faults. 

The most perfect of men has them, and is 
either wedded to them or has illicit relations 
with them. They are often faults of intellect, 
and the greater this is, the greater they are, 
or at least the more conspicuous. It is not so 
much that their possessor does not know 
them : he loves them, which is a double evil : 
irrational affection for avoidable faults. They 
are spots on perfection ; they displease the 
onlooker as much as they please the possessor. 
'Tis a gallant thing to get clear of them, and 
so give play to one's other qualities. For all 


men hit upon such a failing, and on going over 
your qualifications they make a long stay at this 
blot, and blacken it as deeply as possible in 
order to cast your other talents into the shade. 

clxii Hozu to triumph over Rivals and 
It is not enough to despise them, though this 
is often wise : a gallant bearing is the thing. 
One cannot praise a man too much who speaks 
well of them who speak ill of him. There 
is no more heroic vengeance than that of 
talents and services which at once conquer 
and torment the envious. Every success is 
a further twist of the cord round the neck 
of the ill-affected, and an enemy's glory is 
the rival's hell. The envious die not once, 
but as oft as the envied wins applause. The 
immortality of his fame is the measure of 
the other's torture : the one lives in endless 
honour, the other in endless pain. The 
clarion of Fame announces immortality to the 
one and death to the other, the slow death 
of envy long drawn out. 

clxiii Never, from Sympathy with the Unfortunate, 
involve Yourself in his Fate, 

One man's misfortune is another man*s luck, 


for one cannot be lucky without many 
being unlucky. It is a peculiarity of the 
unfortunate to arouse people's goodwill who 
desire to compensate them for the blows 
of fortune with their useless favour, and it 
happens that one who was abhorred by all 
in prosperity is adored by all in adversity. 
Vengeance on the wing is exchanged for 
compassion afoot. Yet 'tis to be noticed how 
fate shuffles the cards. There are men who 
always consort with the unlucky, and he that 
yesterday flew high and happy stands to-day 
miserable at their side. That argues nobility 
of soul, but not worldly wisdom. 

clxiv Throw Straws in the Air, 
to find how things will be received, 
especially those whose reception or success 
is doubtful. One can thus be assured of 
its turning out well, and an opportunity is 
afforded for going on in earnest or withdraw- 
ing entirely. By trying men's intentions in 
this way, the wise man knows on what ground 
he stands. This is the great rule of foresight 
in asking, in desiring, and in ruling. 

clxv Wage War Honourably. 
You may be obliged to wage war, but not to 


use poisoned arrows. Every one must needs 
act as he is, not as others would make him 
to be. Gallantry in the battle of life wins 
all men's praise : one should fight so as to 
conquer, not alone by force but by the way 
it is used. A mean victory brings no glory, 
but rather disgrace. Honour always has the 
upper hand. An honourable man never uses 
forbidden weapons, such as using a friendship 
that's ended for the purposes of a hatred just 
begun : a confidence must never be psed for 
a vengeance. The slightest taint of treason 
tarnishes the good name. In men of honour 
the smallest trace of meanness repels : the 
noble and the ignoble should be miles apart. 
Be able to boast that if gallantry, generosity, 
and fidelity were lost in the world men would 
be able to find them again in your own breast. 

clxvi Distinguish the Man of Words from the 
Man of Deeds. 

Discrimination here is as important as in 
the case of friends, persons, and employments, 
which have all many varieties. Bad words even 
without bad deeds are bad enough : good words 
with bad deeds are worse. One cannot dine off 
words, which are wind, nor off" politeness, which 


is but polite deceit. To catch birds with a 
mirror is the ideal snare. It is the vain alone 
who take their wages in windy words. Words 
should be the pledges of work, and, like pawn- 
tickets, have their market price. Trees that 
bear leaves but not fruit have usually no pith. 
Know them for what they are, of no use except 
for shade. 

clxvii Know how to take 'four own Part. 

In great crises there is no better companion 
than a bold heart, and if it becomes weak it 
must be strengthened from the neighbouring 
parts. Worries die away before a man who 
asserts himself. One must not surrender to 
misfortune, or else it would become intoler- 
able. Many men do not help themselves in 
their troubles, and double their weight by not 
knowing how to bear them. He that knows 
himself knows how to strengthen his weakness, 
and the wise man conquers everything, even 
the stars in their courses. 

clxviii Do not indulge in the Eccentricities of 

Like vain, presumptuous, egotistical, untrust- 
worthy, capricious, obstinate, fanciful, theat- 


rical, whimsical, inquisitive, paradoxical, sec- 
tarian people and all kinds of one-sided 
persons : they are all monstrosities of imperti- 
nence. All deformity of mind is more obnoxious 
than that of the body, because it contravenes 
a higher beauty. Yet who can assist such a 
complete confusion of mind ? Where self- 
control is wanting, there is no room for others' 
guidance. Instead of paying attention to other 
people's real derision, men of this kind blind 
themselves with the unfounded assumption of 
their imaginary applause. 

clxix Be more careful not to Miss once than to 
Hit a hundred times. 
No one looks at the blazing sun ; all gaze 
when he is eclipsed. The common talk does 
not reckon what goes right but what goes 
wrong. Evil report carries farther than any 
applause. Many men are not known to the 
world till they have left it. All the exploits 
of a man taken together are not enough to 
wipe out a single small blemish. Avoid there- 
fore falling into error, seeing that ill-will 
notices every error and no success. 

clxx In all Things keep Something in Reserve. 
'Tis a sure means of keeping up your im- 


portance. A man should not employ all his 
capacity and power at once and on every 
occasion. Even in knowledge there should be 
a rearguard, so that your resources are doubled. 
One must always have something to resort to 
when there is fear of a defeat. The reserve is 
of more importance than the attacking force : 
for it is distinguished for valour and reputation. 
Prudence always sets to work with assurance 
of safety : in this matter the piquant paradox 
holds good that the half is more than the whole. 

clxxi Waste not Influence. 

The great as friends are for great occasions. 
One should not make use of great confidence for 
little things : for that is to waste a favour. 
The sheet anchor should be reserved for the 
last extremity. If you use up the great for 
little ends what remains afterwards ? Nothing 
is more valuable than a protector, and nothing 
costs more nowadays than a favour. It can 
make or unmake a whole world. It can even 
give sense and take it away. As Nature and 
Fame are favourable to the wise, so Luck is 
generally envious of them. It is therefore 
more important to keep the favour of the 
mighty than goods and chattels. 


clxxii "Never contend with a Man who has nothing 
to Lose ; 

for thereby you enter into an unequal 
conflict. The other enters without anxiety ; 
having lost everything, including shame, he 
has no further loss to fear. He therefore re- 
sorts to all kinds of insolence. One should 
never expose a valuable reputation to so 
terrible a risk, lest what has cost years to gain 
may be lost in a moment, since a single slight 
may wipe out much sweat. A man of honour 
and responsibility has a reputation, because he 
has much to lose. He balances his own and 
the other's reputation : he only enters into the 
contest with the greatest caution, and then goes 
to work with such circumspection that he gives 
time to prudence to retire in time and bring 
his reputation under cover. For even by 
victory he cannot gain what he has lost by 
exposing himself to the chances of loss. 

clxxiii Do not be Glass in Intercourse, still less in 

Some break very easily, and thereby show 
their want of consistency. They attribute to 
themselves imaginary offences and to others 
oppressive intentions. Their feelings are even 


more sensitive than the eye itself, and must 
not be touched in jest or in earnest. Motes 
ofFend them : they need not wait for beams. 
Those who consort with them must treat them 
with the greatest delicacy, have regard to their 
sensitiveness, and watch their demeanour, since 
the slightest slight arouses their annoyance. 
They are mostly very egoistic, slaves of their 
moods, for the sake of which they cast every- 
thing aside : they are the worshippers of punc- 
tilio. On the other hand, the disposition of the 
true lover is firm and enduring, so that it may 
be said that the Amant is half adamant. 

clxxiv Do not live in a Hurry. 

To know how to separate things is to know 
how to enjoy them. Many finish their fortune 
sooner than their life : they run through 
pleasures without enjoying them, and would 
like to go back when they find they have over- 
leaped the mark. Postilions of life, they in- 
crease the ordinary pace of life by the hurry 
of their own calling. They devour more in 
one day than they can digest in a whole life- 
time ; they live in advance of pleasures, eat up 
the years beforehand, and by their hurry get 
through everything too soon. Even in the 


search for knowledge there should be modera- 
tion, lest we learn things better left unknown. 
We have more days to live through than 
pleasures. Be slow in enjoyment, quick at 
work, for men see work ended with pleasure, 
pleasure ended with regret. 

clxxv A Solid Man. 

One who is finds no satisfaction in those 
that are not. 'Tis a pitiable eminence that is 
not well founded. Not all are men that seem 
to be so. Some are sources of deceit ; im- 
pregnated by chimeras they give birth to 
impositions. Others are like them so far that 
they take more pleasure in a lie, because it 
promises much, than in the truth, because it 
performs little. But in the end these caprices 
come to a bad end, for they have no solid 
foundation. Only Truth can give true 
reputation : only reality can be of real profit. 
One deceit needs many others, and so the 
whole house is built in the air and must soon 
come to the ground. Unfounded things never 
reach old age. They promise too much to be 
much trusted, just as that cannot be true which 
proves too much. 


clxxvi Have Knowledge^ or know those that have 

Without intelligence, either one's own or 
another's, true life is impossible. But many do 
not know that they do not know, and many 
think they know when they know nothing. 
Failings of the intelligence are incorrigible, 
since those who do not know, do not know 
themselves, and cannot therefore seek what they 
lack. Many would be wise if they did not 
think themselves wise. Thus it happens that 
though the oracles of wisdom are rare, they 
are rarely used. To seek advice does not 
lessen greatness or argue incapacity. On the 
contrary, to ask advice proves you well advised. 
Take counsel with reason it you do not wish 
to court defeat. 

clxxvii Avoid Familiarities in Intercourse. 

Neither use them nor permit them. He 
that is familiar, loses any superiority his 
mfluence gives him, and so loses respect. 
The stars keep their brilliance by not making 
themselves common. The Divine demands 
decorum. Every familiarity breeds contempt. 
In human affairs, the more a man shows, the 
less he has, for in open communication you 


communicate the failings that reserve might 
keep under cover. Familiarity is never de- 
sirable ; with superiors because it is danger- 
ous, with inferiors because it is unbecoming, 
least of all with the common herd, who become 
insolent from sheer folly : they mistake favour 
shown them for need felt of them. Familiarity 
trenches on vulgarity. 

clxxviii Trust sour Heart, 

especially when it has been proved. Never 
deny it a hearing. It is a kind of house 
oracle that often foretells the most important. 
Many have perished because they feared their 
own heart, but of what use is it to fear it 
without finding a better remedy ? Many are 
endowed by Nature with a heart so true that it 
always warns them of misfortune and wards off 
its effects. It is unwise to seek evils, unless 
you seek to conquer them. 

clxxix Reticence is the Seal of Capacity. 

A breast without a secret is an open letter. 
Where there is a solid foundation secrets can 
be kept profound : there are spacious cellars 
where things of moment may be hid. Re- 
ticence springs from self-control, and to con- 


trol oneself in this is a true triumph. You 
must pay ransom to each you tell. The 
securit}^ of wisdom consists in temperance in 
the inner man. The risk that reticence runs 
lies in the cross-questioning of others, in the 
use of contradiction to worm out secrets, in the 
darts of irony : to avoid these the prudent be- 
come more reticent than before. What must 
be done need not be said, and what must be 
said need not be done. 

clxxx Never guide the Enemy to what he has 
to do. 

The fool never does what the wise judge wise, 
because he does not follow up the suitable 
means. He that is discreet follows still less a 
plan laid out, or even carried out, by another. 
One has to discuss matters from both points of 
view — turn it over on both sides. Judgments 
vary ; let him that has not decided attend 
rather to what is possible than what is prob- 

clxxxi The Truth, but not the whole Truth. 

Nothing demands more caution than the 
truth : 'tis the lancet of the heart. It requires 
as much to tell the truth as to conceal it. 


A single lie destroys a whole reputation for 
integrity. The deceit is regarded as treason 
and the deceiver as a traitor, which is worse. 
Yet not all truths can be spoken : some for 
our own sake, others for the sake of others. 

clxxxii A Grain of Boldness in Everything. 

'Tis an important piece of prudence. You 
must moderate your opinion of others so that 
you may not think so high of them as to fear 
them. The imagination should never yield 
to the heart. Many appear great till you 
know them personally, and then dealing with 
them does more to disillusionise than to raise 
esteem. No one o'ersteps the narrow bounds 
of humanity : all have their weaknesses either 
in heart or head. Dignity gives apparent 
authority, which is rarely accompanied by 
personal power : for Fortune often redresses 
the height of office by the inferiority of the 
holder. The imagination always jumps too 
soon, and paints things in brighter colours 
than the real : it thinks things not as they 
are but as it wishes them to be. Attentive 
experience disillusionised in the past soon 
corrects all that. Yet if wisdom should not 
be timorous, neither should folly be rash. 


And if self-reliance helps the ignorant, how 
mnch more the brave and wise ? 

clxxziii Do not hold your Views too firmly. 

Every fool is fully convinced, and every one 
fully persuaded is a fool : the more erroneous 
his judgment the more firmly he holds it. 
Even in cases of obvious certainty, it is fine 
to yield : our reasons for holding the view 
cannot escape notice, our courtesy in yielding 
must be the more recognised- Our obstinacy 
loses more than our victory yields : that is 
not to champion truth but rather rudeness. 
There be some heads of iron most difiicult 
to turn : add caprice to obstinacy and the sum 
is a wearisome fool. Steadfastness should be 
for the will, not for the mind. Yet there are 
exceptions where one would fail twice, owning 
oneself wrong both in judgment and in the 
execution of it. 

clxixiv Do not be Ceremonious. 

Even in a king affectation in this was re- 
nowned for its eccentricity. To be punctilious 
is to be a bore, yet whole nations have this 
peculiarity. The garb of folly is woven out 
of such things. Such folk are worshippers 


of their own dignity, yet show how little 
it is justified since they fear that the least 
thing can destroy it. It is right to demand 
respect, but not to be considered a master 
of ceremonies. Yet it is true that a man to 
do without ceremonies must possess supreme 
qualities. Neither affect nor despise etiquette : 
he cannot be great who is great at such little 

clxxxv Never stake jour Credit on a stngle Cast ; 

for if it miscarries the damage is irrepar- 
able. It may easy happen that a man should 
fail once, especially at first : circumstances 
are not always favourable : hence they say, 
"Every dog has his day." Alwap connect 
your second attempt with your first : whether 
it succeed or fail, the first will redeem the 
second. Alwap have resort to better means 
and appeal to more resources. Things depend 
on all sorts of chances. That is why the 
satisfaction of success is so rare. 

clxxxvi Recognise Faults, bnoever high placed. 

Integrity cannot mistake \'ice even when 
clothed in brocade or perchance crowned with 
gold, but will not be able to hide its character 


for all that. Slavery does not lose its vileness, 
however it vaunt the nobility of its lord 
and master. Vices may stand in high place, 
but are low for all that. Men can see that 
many a great man has great faults, yet they 
do not see that he is not great because of 
them. The example of the great is so specious 
that it even glosses over viciousness, till it may 
so affect those who flatter it that they do not 
notice that what they gloss over in the great 
they abominate in the lower classes. 

clxxxvii Do pleasant Things Tour self , unpleasant 
Things through Others, 

By the one course you gain goodwill, by 
the other you avoid hatred. A great man 
takes more pleasure in doing a favour than 
in receiving one : it is the privilege of 
his generous nature. One cannot easily 
cause pain to another without suffering pain 
either from sympathy or from remorse. In 
high place one can only work by means of 
rewards and punishment, so grant the first 
yourself, inflict the other through others. 
Have some one against whom the weapons 
of discontent, hatred, and slander may be 
directed. For the rage of the mob is like 


that of a dog : missing the cause of its pain 
it turns to bite the whip itself, and though 
this is not the real culprit, it has to pay the 

clxxxviii Be the Bearer of Praise, 

This increases our credit for good taste, since 
it shows that we have learnt elsewhere to know 
what is excellent, and hence how to prize it 
in the present company. It gives material for 
conversation and for imitation, and encourages 
praiseworthy exertions. We do homage besides 
in a very delicate way to the excellences before 
us. Others do the opposite ; they accompany 
their talk with a sneer, and fancy they flatter 
those present by belittling the absent. This 
may serve them with superficial people, who 
do not notice how cunning it is to speak ill 
of every 'one to every one else. Many pursue 
the plan of valuing more highly the medi- 
ocrities of the day than the most distinguished 
exploits of the past. Let the cautious penetrate 
through these subtleties, and let him not be 
dismayed by the exaggerations of the one or 
made over -confident by the flatteries of the 
other ; knowing that both act in the same way 
by difi^erent methods, adapting their talk to the 
company they are in. 


clxxxix Utilise Another's Wants, 

The greater his wants the greater the turn of 
the screw. Philosophers say privation is non- 
existent, statesmen say it is all-embracing, and 
they are right. Many make ladders to attain 
their ends out of wants of others. They 
make use of the opportunity and tantalise the 
appetite by pointing out the difficulty of 
satisfaction. The energy of desire promises 
more than the inertia of possession. The 
passion of desire increases with every increase 
of opposition. It is a subtle point to satisfy 
the desire and yet preserve the dependence. 

cxc Find Consolation in all Things, 

Even the useless may find it in being immor- 
tal. No trouble without compensation. Fools 
are held to be lucky, and the good-luck of the 
ugly is proverbial. Be worth little and you will 
live long : it is the cracked glass that never 
gets broken, but worries one with its durability. 
It seems that Fortune envies the great, so it 
equalises things by giving long life to the use- 
less, a short one to the important. Those 
who bear the burden come soon to grief, while 
those who are of no importance live on and 
on : in one case it appears so, in the other it 


is so. The unlucky thinks he has been for- 
gotten by both Death and Fortune. 

cxci Do not take Payment in Politeness ; 

for it is a kind of fraud. Some do not 
need the herbs of Thessaly for their magic, 
for they can enchant fools by the grace of 
their salute. Theirs is the Bank of Elegance, 
and they pay with the wind of fine words. To 
promise everything is to promise nothing : 
promises are the pitfalls of fools. The true 
courtesy is performance of duty : the spurious 
and especially the useless is deceit. It is not 
respect but rather a means to power. Obeis- 
ance is paid not to the man but to his means, 
and compliments are offered not to the qualities 
that are recognised but to the advantages that 
are desired. 

cxcii Peaceful Life, a long Life, 

To live, let live. Peacemakers not only 
live : they rule life. Hear, see, and be silent. 
A day without dispute brings sleep without 
dreams. Long life and a pleasant one is life 
enough for two : that is the fruit of peace. 
He has all that makes nothing of what is 
nothing to him. There is no greater perversity 


than to take everything to heart. There is 
equal folly in troubling our heart about what 
does not concern us and in not taking to 
heart what does. 

cxciii Watch him that begins with Another^ to 
end with his own. 

Watchfulness is the only guard against 
cunning. Be intent on his intentions. Many 
succeed in making others do their own affairs, 
and unless you possess the key to their 
motives you may at any moment be forced to 
take their chestnuts out of the fire to the 
damage of your own fingers. 

cxciv Have reasonable Views of Yourself and oj 
your Affairs^ 

especially in the beginning of life. Every 
one has a high opinion of himself, especially 
those who have least ground for it. Every one 
dreams of his good-luck and thinks himself a 
vs^onder. Hope gives rise to extravagant 
promises which experience does not fulfil. 
Such idle imaginations merely serve as a well- 
spring of annoyance when disillusion comes 
with the true reality. The wise man antici- 
pates such errors : he may always hope for the 


best, but he always expects the worst, so as to 
receive what comes with equanimity. True, 
It is wise to aim high so as to hit your mark, 
but not so high that you miss your mission at 
the very beginning of life. This correction 
of the ideas is necessary, because before ex- 
perience comes expectation is sure to soar 
too high. The best panacea against folly is 
prudence. If a man knows the true sphere 
of his activity and position, he can reconcile 
his ideals with reality. 

cxcv Know how to Appreciate. 

There is none who cannot teach somebody 
something, and there is none so excellent but 
he is excelled. To know how to make use of 
every one is useful knowledge. Wise men 
appreciate all men, for they see the good in 
each and know how hard it is to make any- 
thing good. Fools depreciate all men, not 
recognising the good and selecting the bad. 

cxcvi Know jour ruling Star. 

None so helpless as not to have one ; if he 
IS unlucky, that is because he does not know it. 
Some stand high in the favour of princes and 
potentates without knowing why or wherefore. 


except that good luck itself has granted them 
favour on easy terms, merely requiring them 
to aid it with a little exertion. Others find 
favour with the wise. One man is better 
received by one nation than by another, or is 
more welcome in one city than in another. He 
finds more luck in one ofiice or position than 
another, and all this though his qualifications 
are equal or even identical. Luck shufiles the 
cards how and when she will. Let each man 
know his luck as well as his talents, for on this 
depends whether he loses or wins. Follow 
your guiding star and help it without mistaking 
any other for it, for that would be to miss the 
North, though its neighbour (the polestar) calls 
us to it with a voice of thunder. 

cxcvii Do not carry Fools on your Back. 

He that does not know a fool when he sees 
him is one himself: still more he that knows 
him but will not keep clear of him. They 
are dangerous company and ruinous confidants. 
Even though their own caution and others' 
care keeps them in bounds for a time, still at 
length they are sure to do or to say some 
foolishness which is all the greater for being 
kept so long in stock. They cannot help 


another's credit who have none of their own. 
They are most unlucky, which is the Nemesis 
of fools, and they have to pay for one thing or 
the other. There is only one thing which is 
not so bad about them, and this is that though 
they can be of no use to the wise, they can 
be of much use to them as signposts or as warn- 

cxcviii Know how to transplant Yourself. 

There are nations with whom one must 
cross their borders to make one's value felt, 
especially in great posts. Their native land 
is always a stepmother to great talents : envy 
flourishes there on its native soil, and they 
remember one's small beginnings rather than 
the greatness one has reached. A needle is 
appreciated that comes from one end of the 
world to the other, and a piece of painted glass 
might outvie the diamond in value if it comes 
from afar. Everything foreign is respected, 
partly because it comes from afar, partly 
because it is ready made and perfect. We 
have seen persons once the laughing-stock 
of their village and now the wonder of 
the whole world, honoured by their fellow- 
countrymen and by the foreigners [among 
whom they dwell] ; by the latter because they 


come from afar, by the former because they 
are seen from afar. The statue on the altar 
is never reverenced by him who knew it as 
a trunk in the garden. 

cxcix To find a proper Place by Merit, not by 


The true road to respect is through merit, and 
if industry accompany merit the path becomes 
shorter. Integrity alone is not sufficient, push 
and insistence is degrading, for things arrive 
by that means so besprinkled with dust that 
the discredit destroys reputation. The true 
way is the middle one, half-way between de- 
serving a place and pushing oneself into it. 

cc Leave Something to wish for, 

so as not to be miserable from very happi- 
ness. The body must respire and the soul 
aspire. If one possessed all, all would be 
disillusion and discontent. Even in know- 
ledge there should be always something left 
to know in order to arouse curiosity and excite 
hope. Surfeits of happiness are fatal. In giv- 
ing assistance it is a piece of policy not to 
satisfy entirely. If there is nothing left to 
desire, there is everything to fear, an unhappy 


State of happiness. When desire dies, fear is 

cci The^ are all Fools who see?n so besides half 
the rest. 

Folly arose with the world, and if there be 
any wisdom it is folly compared with the 
divine. But the greatest fool is he who thinks 
he is not one and all others are. To be wise 
It is not enough to seem wise, least of all to 
oneself. He knows who does not think that 
he knows, and he does not see who does not 
see that others see. Though all the world is 
full of fools, there is none that thinks himself 
one, or even suspects the fact. 

ccii Words and Deeds make the Perfect Man. 

One should speak well and act honourably : 
the one is an excellence of the head, the other 
of the heart, and both arise from nobility ot 
soul. Words are the shadows of deeds ; the 
former are feminine, the latter masculine. It 
is more important to be renowned than to 
convey renown. Speech is easy, action hard. 
Actions are the stuff of life, words its frippery. 
Eminent deeds endure, striking words pass 
away. Actions are the fruit of thought ; if 
this is wise, they are effective. 


cciii Know the great Men of your Age. 

They are not many. There is one Phoenix 
m the whole world, one great general, one 
perfect orator, one true philosopher in a 
century, a really illustrious king in several. 
Mediocrities are as numerous as they are worth- 
less : eminent greatness is rare in every respect, 
since it needs complete perfection, and the 
higher the species the more difficult is the 
highest rank in it. Many have claimed the 
title "Great," like Caesar and Alexander, 
but in vain, for without great deeds the 
title is a mere breath of air. There have 
been few Senecas, and tame records but one 

cciv Attempt easy Tasks as if they were difficulty 
and difficult as if they were easy. 

In the one case that confidence may not 
fall asleep, in the other that it may not be 
dismayed. For a thing to remain undone 
nothing more is needed than to think it done. 
On the other hand, patient industry overcomes 
impossibilities. Great undertakings are not 
to be brooded over, lest their difficulty when 
seen causes despair. 


ccv Know how to play the Card of Contempt, 

It is a shrewd way of getting things you 
want, by afFecting to depreciate them : gener- 
ally they are not to be had when sought for, 
but fall into one's hands when one is not look- 
ing for them. As all mundane things are but 
shadows of the things eternal, they share with 
shadows this quality, that they flee from him 
who follows them and follow him that flees 
from them. Contempt is besides the most 
subtle form of revenge. It is a fixed rule 
with the wise never to defend themselves with 
the pen. For such defence always leaves a 
stain, and does more to glorify one's opponent 
than to punish his ofi^snce. It is a trick of 
the worthless to stand forth as opponents of 
great men, so as to win notoriety by a round- 
about way, which they would never do by the 
straight road of merit. There are many we 
would not have heard of if their eminent 
opponents had not taken notice of them. 
There is no revenge like oblivion, through 
which they are buried in the dust of their 
unworthiness. Audacious persons hope to 
make themselves eternally famous by setting 
fire to one of the wonders of the world and of 
the ages. The art of reproving scandal is to 


take no notice of it, to combat it damages 
our own case ; even if credited it causes dis- 
credit, and is a source of satisfaction to our 
opponent, for this shadow of a stain dulls 
the lustre of our fame even if it cannot 
altogether deaden it. 

ccvi Know that there are vulgar Natures every 

even in Corinth itself, even in the highest 
families. Every one may try the experiment 
within his own gates. But there is also such 
a thing as vulgar opposition to vulgarity, which 
is worse. This special kind shares all the 
qualities of the common kind, just as bits of a 
broken glass : • but this kind is still more per- 
nicious ; it speaks folly, blames impertinently, 
is a disciple of ignorance, a patron of folly, and 
past master of scandal ; you need not notice 
what it says, still less what it thinks. It is im- 
portant to know vulgarity in order to avoid it, 
whether it is subjective or objective. For all 
folly is vulgarity, and the vulgar consist of fools. 

ccvii Be Moderate, 

One has to consider the chance of a mis- 
chance. The impulses of the passions cause 


prudence to slip, and there is the risk of ruin. 
A moment of wrath or of pleasure carries you 
on farther than many hours of calm, and often a 
short diversion may put a whole life to shame. 
The cunning of others uses such moments of 
temptation to search the recesses of the mind : 
they use such thumbscrews as are wont to test 
the best caution. Moderation serves as a 
counterplot, especially in sudden emergencies. 
Much thought is needed to prevent a passion 
taking the bit in the teeth, and he is doubly 
wise who is wise on horseback. He who 
knows the danger may with care pursue his 
journey. Light as a word may appear to him 
who throws it out, it may import much to him 
that hears it and ponders on it. 

ccviii Do not die of the Fools' Disease, 

The wise generally die after they have lost 
their reason : fools before they have found it. 
To die of the fools' disease is to die of too 
much thought. Some die because they think 
and feel too much : others live because they 
do not think and feel : these are fools because 
they do not die of sorrow, the others because 
they do. A fool is he that dies of too much 
knowledge : thus some die because they are too 


knowing, others because they are not knowing 
enough. Yet though many die like fools, few 
die fools. 

ccix Keep Yourself free from common Follies. 

This is a special stroke of policy. They are 
of special power because they are general, so 
that many who would not be led away by any 
individual folly cannot escape the universal 
failing. Among these are to be counted the 
common prejudice that any one is satisfied with 
his fortune, however great, or unsatisfied with 
his intellect, however poor it is. Or again, 
that each, being discontented with his own lot, 
envies that of others ; or further, that persons of 
to-day praise the things of yesterday, and those 
here the things there. Everything past seems 
best and everything distant is more valued. 
He IS as great a fool that laughs at all as he 
that weeps at all. 

ccx Know how to play the Card of Truth. 

*Tis dangerous, yet a good man cannot avoid 
speaking it. But great skill is needed here : 
the most expert doctors of the soul pay great 
attention to the means of sweetening the pill 
of truth. For when it deals with the destroy- 


"ing of illusion it is the quintessence of bitter- 
ness. A pleasant manner has here an 
opportunity for a display ot skill : with the 
same truth it can flatter one and fell another 
to the ground. Matters of to-day should be 
treated as if they were long past. For those 
who can understand a word is sufficient, and if 
it does not suffice, it is a case for silence. 
Princes must not be cured with bitter draughts ; 
it is therefore desirable in their case to gild 
the pill of disillusion. 

ccxi In Heaven all is bliss : 

in Hell all misery. On earth, between the 
two, both one thing and the other. We stand 
between the two extremes, and therefore share 
both. Fate varies : all is not good luck nor 
all mischance. This world is merely zero : 
by itself it is of no value, but with Heaven in 
front of it, it means much. Indifference at 
its ups and downs is prudent, nor is there any 
novelty for the wise. Our life gets as com- 
plicated as a comedy as it goes on, but the 
complications get gradually resolved : see that 
the curtain comes down on a good denoument. 


ccxii Keep to Yourself the final Touches of your 

This is a maxim of the great masters who 
pride themselves on this subtlety in teaching 
their pupils : one must always remain superior, 
remain master. One must teach an art art- 
fully. The source of knowledge need not be 
pointed out no more than that of giving. By 
this means a man preserves the respect and 
the dependence of others. In amusing and 
teaching you must keep to the rule : keep up 
expectation and advance in perfection. To 
keep a reserve is a great rule for life and for 
success, especially for those in high place. 

ccxiii Know how to Contradict. 

A chief means of finding things out — to 
embarrass others without being embarrassed. 
The true thumbscrew, it brings the passions 
into play. Tepid incredulity acts as an emetic 
on secrets. It is the key to a locked-up breast, 
and with great subtlety makes a double trial ot 
both mind and will. A sly depreciation ot 
another's mysterious word scents out the pro- 
foundest secrets ; some sweet bait brings them 
into the mouth till they fall from the tongue 
and are caught in the net of astute deceit. 


By reserving your attention the other becomes 
less attentive, and lets his thoughts appear 
while otherwise his heart were inscrutable. 
An affected doubt is the subtlest picklock that 
curiosity can use to find out what it wants to 
know. Also in learning it is a subtle plan of 
the pupil to contradict the master, who there- 
upon takes pains to explain the truth more 
thoroughly and with more force, so that a 
moderate contradiction produces complete 

ccxiv Do not turn one Blunder into two. 

It is quite usual to commit four others in 
order to remedy one, or to excuse one piece of 
impertinence by still another. Folly is either 
related to, or identical with the family of Lies, 
for in both cases it needs many to support one. 
The worst of a bad case is having to fight 
it, and worse than the ill itself is not being 
able to conceal it. The annuity of one failing 
serves to support many others. A wise man 
may make one slip but never two, and that 
only in running, not while standing still. 

ccxv Watch him that acts on Second Thoughts. 
It is a device of business men to put the 


opponent ofF his guard before attacking him, 
and thus to conquer by being defeated : they 
dissemble their desire so as to attain it. They 
put themselves second so as to come out first 
in the final spurt. This method rarely fails if 
it is not noticed. Let therefore the attention 
never sleep when the intention is so wide 
awake. And if the other puts himself second 
so to hide his plan, put yourself first to discover 
it. Prudence can discern the artifices which 
such a man uses, and notices the pretexts he 
puts forward to gain his ends. He aims at 
one thing to get another : then he turns round 
smartly and fires straight at his target. It is 
well to know what you grant him, and at times 
it is desirable to give him to understand that 
you understand. 

ccxvi Be Expressive. 

This depends not only on the clearness but 
also on the vivacity of your thoughts. Some 
have an easy conception but a hard labour, 
for without clearness the children of the mind, 
thoughts and judgments, cannot be brought into 
the world. Many have a capacity like that 
of vessels with a large mouth and a small 
vent. Others again say more than they think. 


Resolution for the will, expression for the 
thought : two great gifts. Plausible minds 
are applauded : yet confused ones are often 
venerated just because they are not understood, 
and at times obscurity is convenient if you 
vsrish to avoid vulgarity ; yet how shall the 
audience understand one that connects no 
definite idea with what he says ? 

ccxvii Neither Love nor Hate, for ever. 

Trust the friends of to-day as if they, will be 
enemies to-morrow, and that of the worst kind. 
As this happens in reality, let it happen in 
your precaution. Do not put weapons in the 
hand for deserters from friendship to wage 
war with. On the other hand, leave the door 
of reconciliation open for enemies, and if it is 
also the gate of generosity so much the more 
safe. The vengeance of long ago is at times 
the torment of to-day, and the joy over the ill 
v/e have done is turned to grief. 

ccxviii Never act from Obstinacy but from 

All obstinacy is an excrescence of the mind, 
a grandchild of passion which never did any- 
thing right. There are persons who make 


a war out of everything, real banditti of 
intercourse. All that they undertake must 
end in victory ; they do not know how to get 
on in peace. Such men are fatal when they 
rule and govern, for they make government 
rebellion, and enemies out of those whom they 
ought to regard as children. They try to 
effect everything with strategy and treat it 
as the fruit of their skill. But when others 
have recognised their perverse humour all 
revolt against them and learn to overturn 
their chimerical plans, and they succeed in 
nothing but only heap up a mass of troubles, 
since everything serves to increase their dis- 
appointment. They have a head turned and 
a heart spoilt. Nothing can be done with 
such monsters except to flee from them, even 
to the Antipodes, where the savagery is easier 
to bear than their loathsome nature. 

ccxix Do not pass for a Hypocrite , 

though such men are indispensable now- 
adays. Be considered rather prudent than 
astute. Sincerity in behaviour pleases all, 
though not all can show it in their own 
affairs. Sincerity should not degenerate into 
simplicity nor sagacity into cunning. Be 


rather respected as wise than feared as sly. 
The open-hearted are loved but deceived. The 
great art consists in disclosing what is thought 
to be deceit. In the golden age simplicity 
flourished, in these days of iron cunning. The 
reputation of being a man who knows what 
he has to do is honourable and inspires con- 
fidence, but to be considered a hypocrite is 
deceptive and arouses mistrust. 

ccxx If you cannot clothe Yourself in Lions kin 
use Foxpelt. 

To follow the times is to lead them. He 
that gets what he wants never loses his reputa- 
tion. Cleverness when force will not do. 
One way or another, the king's highway of 
valour or the bypath of cunning. Skill has 
effected more than force, and astuteness has 
conquered courage more often than the other 
way. When you cannot get a thing then is 
the time to despise it. 

ccxxi Do not seize Occasions to emharrass 
Yourself or Others, 

There are some men stumbling-blocks of good 
manners either for themselves or for others: they 
are always on the point of some stupidity. You 


meet with them easily and part from them 
uneasily. A hundred annoyances a day is 
nothing to them. Their humour always strokes 
the wrong way since they contradict all and 
every. They put on the judgment cap wrong 
side foremost and thus condemn all. Yet the 
greatest test of others' patience and prudence 
are just those who do no good and speak ill 
of all. There are many monsters in the wide 
realm of Indecorum. 

ccxxii Resfrve is proof of Prudence. 

The tongue is a wild beast ; once let loose it 
is difficult to chain. It is the pulse of the 
soul by which wise men judge of its health : by 
this pulse a careful observer feels every move- 
ment of the heart. The worst is that he who 
should be most reserved is the least. The sage 
saves himself from worries and embarrassments, 
and shows bis mastery over himself. He goes 
his way carefully, a Janus for impartiality, an 
Argus for watchfulness. Truly Momus had 
better placed the eyes in the hand than the 
window in the breast. 

ccxxiii Be not Eccentric, 
neither from affectation nor carelessness. 


Many have some remarkable and Individual 
quality leading to eccentric actions. These 
are more defects than excellent differences. 
And just as some are known for some special 
ugliness, so these for something repellant in 
their outward behaviour. Such eccentricities 
simply serve as trademarks through their atro- 
cious singularity : they cause either derision or 

ccxxiv Never take Things against the Grain, 

no matter how they come. Everything has a 
smooth and a seamy side, and the best weapon 
wounds if taken by the blade, while the enemy's 
spear may be our best protection if taken by 
the staff. Many things cause pain which would 
cause pleasure if you regarded their advantages. 
There is a favourable and an unfavourable side 
to everything, the cleverness consists in find- 
ing out the favourable. The same thing looks 
quite different in another light ; look at it 
therefore on its best side and do not exchange 
good for evil. Thus it haps that many find 
joy, many grief, in everything. This remark 
is a great protection against the frowns of 
fortune, and a weighty rule of life for all times 
and all conditions. 


ccxxv Know your chief Fault. 

There lives none that has not in himself a 
counterbalance to his most conspicuous merit : 
if this be nourished by desire it may grow to 
be a tyrant. Commence war against it, sum- 
moning prudence as your ally, and the first 
thing to do is the public manifesto, for an evil 
once known is soon conquered, especially when 
the one afflicted regards it in the same light as 
the onlookers. To be master of oneself one 
should know oneself. If the chief imperfection 
surrender, the rest will come to an end. 

ccxxvi Take care to be Obliging. 

Most talk and act, not as they are, but as 
they are obliged. To persuade people of ill 
is easy for any, since the ill is easily credited 
even when at times it is incredible. The best 
we have depends on the opinion of others. 
Some are satisfied if they have right on their 
side, but that is not enough, for it must be 
assisted by energy. To oblige persons often 
costs little and helps much. With words you 
may purchase deeds. In this great house of 
the world there is no chamber so hid that it 
may not be wanted one day in the year, and 
then you would miss it however little is its 


worth. Every one speaks of a subject accord- 
ing to his feelings. 

ccxxvii Do not be the Slave of First Impressions. 

Some marry the very first account they hear : 
all others must live with them as concubines. 
But as a lie has swift legs, the truth with them 
can find no lodging. We should neither 
satisfy our will with the first object nor our 
mind with the first proposition : for that were 
superficial. Many are like new casks who 
keep the scent of the first liquor they hold, 
be it good or bad. If this superficiality 
becomes known, it becomes fatal, for it then 
gives opportunity for cunning mischief; the 
ill-minded hasten to colour the mind of the 
credulous. Always therefore leave room for a 
second hearing. Alexander always kept one 
ear for the other side. Wait for the second or 
even third edition of news. To be the slave 
of your impressions argues want of capacity, 
and is not far from being the slave of your 

ccxxviii Do not he a Scandal-monger. 

Still less pass for one, for that means to be 
considered a slanderer. Do not be witty at 


the cost of others : it is easy but hateful. All 
men have their revenge on such an one by 
speaking ill of him, and as they are many and 
he but one, he is more likely to be overcome 
than they convinced. Evil should never be 
our pleasure, and therefore never our theme. 
The backbiter is always hated, and if now and 
then one of the great consorts with him, it is 
less from pleasure in his sneers than from 
esteem for his insight. He that speaks ill will 
always hear worse. 

ccxxix Plan out your Life wisely y 

not as chance will have it, but with prud- 
ence and foresight. Without amusements it is 
wearisome, like a long journey where there are 
no inns : manifold knowledge gives mani- 
fold pleasure. The first day's journey of a 
noble life should be passed in conversing with 
the dead : we live to know and to know our- 
selves : hence true books make us truly men. 
The second day should be spent with the 
living, seeing and noticing all the good in the 
world. Everything is not to be found in a 
single country. The Universal Father has 
divided His gifts, and at times has given the 
richest dower to the ugliest. The third day is 


entirely for oneself. The last felicity is to be 
a philosopher. 

ccxxx Open your Eyes betimes. 

Not all that see have their eyes open, nor do 
all those see that look. To come up to things 
too late is more worry than help. Some just 
begin to see when there is nothing more to 
see : they pull their houses about their ears 
before they come to themselves. It is difficult 
to give sense to those who have no power of 
will, still more difficult to give energy to those 
who have no sense. Those who surround 
them play with them a game of blind man's 
buff, making them the butts of others, and be- 
cause they are hard of hearing, they do not 
open their eyes to see. There are often those 
who encourage such insensibility on which 
their very existence depends. Unhappy steed 
whose rider is blind : it will never grow sleek. 

ccxxxi Never let Things be seen half-finished. 

They can only be enjoyed when complete. 
All beginnings are misshapen, and this 
deformity sticks in the imagination. The 
recollection of having seen a thing imperfect 
disturbs our enjoyment of it when completed. 


To swallow something great at one gulp may 
disturb the judgment of the separate parts, but 
satisfies the taste. Till a thing is everything, 
it is nothing, and while it is in process of being 
it is still nothing. To see the tastiest dishes 
prepared arouses rather disgust than appetite. 
Let each great master take care not to let his 
work be seen in its embryonic stages : they 
might take this lesson from Dame Nature, who 
never brings the child to the light till it is fit 
to be seen. 

ccxxxii Have a Touch of the Trader. 

Life should not be all thought : there should 
be action as well. Very wise folk are gener- 
ally easily deceived, for while they know 
out-of-the-way things they do not know the 
ordinary things of life, which are much more 
needful. The observation of higher things 
leaves them no time for things close at hand. 
Since they know not the very first thing they 
should know, and what everybody knows so 
well, they are either considered or thought 
ignorant by the superficial multitude. Let 
therefore the prudent take care to have some- 
thing of the trader about him — enough to 
prevent him being deceived and so laughed at. 


Be a man adapted to the daily round, which 
if not the highest is the most necessary thing 
in life. Of what use is knowledge if it is not 
practical, and to know how to live is nowadays 
the true knowledge. 

ccxxxiii Let not the proffered Morsel be distasteful; 

otherwise it gives more discomfort than pleas- 
ure. Some displease when attempting to oblige, 
because they take no account of varieties of 
taste. What is flattery to one is an offence 
to another, and in attempting to be useful one 
may become insulting. It often costs more to 
displease a man than it would have cost to 
please him : you thereby lose both gift and 
thanks because you have lost the compass 
which steers for pleasure. He who knows not 
another's taste, knows not how to please him. 
Thus it haps that many insult where they 
mean to praise, and get soundly punished, and 
rightly so. Others desire to charm by their 
conversation, and only succeed in boring by 
their loquacity. 

ccxxxiv Never trust your Honour to another , 
unless you have his in Pledge. 

Arrange that silence is a mutual advantage, 


disclosure a danger to both. Where honour is 
at stake you must act with a partner, so that 
each must be careful of the other's honour for 
the sake of his own. Never entrust your 
honour to another ; but if you have, let 
caution surpass prudence. Let the danger be 
in common and the risk mutual, so that your 
partner cannot turn king's evidence. 

ccxxxv Know how to Ask. 

With some nothing easier : with others 
nothing so difficult. For there are men who 
cannot refuse : with them no skill is required. 
But with others their first word at all times 
is No ; with them great art is required, and 
with all the propitious moment. Surprise them 
when in a pleasant mood, when a repast of 
body or soul has just left them refreshed, if 
only their shrewdness has not anticipated the 
cunning of the applicant. The days of joy 
are the days of favour, for joy overflows from 
the inner man into the outward creation. It 
is no use applying when another has been 
refused, since the objection to a No has just 
been overcome. Nor is it a good time after 
sorrow. To oblige a person beforehand is a 
sure way, unless he is mean. 


ccxxxvi Make an Obligation beforehand of what 
would have to be a Reward afterwards. 

This is a stroke of subtle policy j to grant 
favours before they are deserved is a proof of 
being obliging. Favours thus granted before- 
hand have two great advantages : the prompt- 
ness of the gift obliges the recipient the more 
strongly ; and the same gift which would 
afterwards be merely a reward is beforehand an 
obligation. This is a subtle means of trans- 
forming obligations, since that which would 
have forced the superior to reward is changed 
into one that obliges the one obliged to satisfy 
the obligation. But this is only suitable for 
men who have the feeling of obligation, since 
with men of lower stamp the honorarium paid 
beforehand acts rather as a bit than as a spur. 

ccxxxvii Never share the Secrets of ^our Superiors. 

You may think you will share pears, 
but you will only share parings. Many 
have been ruined by being confidants : they 
are like sops of bread used as forks, they run 
the same risk of being eaten up afterwards. 
It is no favour in a prince to share a secret : 
it is only a relief. Many break the mirror 
that reminds them of their ugliness. We do 


not like seeing those who have seen us as we 
are : nor is he seen in a favourable light who 
has seen us in an unfavourable one. None 
ought to be too much beholden to us, least of 
all one of the great, unless it be for benefits done 
him rather than for such favours received from 
him. Especially dangerous are secrets en- 
trusted to friends. He that communicates his 
secret to another makes himself that other's 
slave. With a prince this is an intolerable 
position which cannot last. He will desire 
to recover his lost liberty, and to gain it will 
overturn everything, including right and reason. 
Accordingly neither tell secrets nor listen to 

ccxxxviii Know what is wanting in Yourself. 

Many would have been great personages if 
they had not had something wanting without 
which they could not rise to the height of 
perfection. It is remarkable with some that 
they could be much better if they could be 
better in something. They do not perhaps 
take themselves seriously enough to do justice 
to their great abilities ; some are wanting in 
geniality of disposition, a quality which their 
mtourage soon find the want of, especially if 


they are in high office. Some are without 
organising ability, others lack moderation. In 
all such cases a careful man may make of habit 
a second nature. 

ccxxxix Do not be Captious, 

It is much more important to be sensible. 
To know more than is necessary blunts your 
weapons, for fine points generally bend or 
break. Common -sense truth is the surest. 
It is well to know but not to niggle. Lengthy 
comment leads to disputes. It is much better 
to have sound sense, which does not wander 
from the matter in hand. 

ccxl Make use of Folly. 

The wisest play this card at times, and there 
are times when the greatest wisdom lies in 
seeming not to be wise. You need not be un- 
wise, but merely affect unwisdom. To be wise 
with fools and foolish with the wise were of 
little use. Speak to each in his own language. 
He is no fool who aifects folly, but he is who 
sufi'ers from it. Ingenuous folly rather than 
the pretended is the true foolishness, since 
cleverness has arrived at such a pitch. To be 
well liked one must dress in the skin of the 
simplest of animals. 


ccxli Put up with Raillery, but do not practise it. 

The first is a form of courtesy, the second 
may lead to embarrassment. To snarl at play 
has something of the beast and seems to have 
more. Audacious raillery is delightful : to 
stand it proves power. To show oneself 
annoyed causes the other to be annoyed. Best 
leave it alone ; the surest way not to put on 
the cap that might fit. The most serious 
matters have arisen out of jests. Nothing re- 
quires more tact and attention. Before you 
begin to joke know how far the subject of your 
joke is able to bear it. 

ccxlii Push Advantages. 

Some put all their strength in the com- 
mencement and never carry a thing to a con- 
clusion. They invent but never execute. 
These be paltering spirits. They obtain no 
fame, for they sustain no game to the end. 
Everything stops at a single stop. This arises 
in some from impatience, which is the failing 
of the Spaniard, as patience is the virtue of the 
Belgian. The latter bring things to an end, 
the former come to an end with things. They 
sweat away till the obstacle is surmounted, but 
content themselves with surmounting it : they 


do not know how to push the victory home. 
They prove that they can but will not : but 
this proves always that they cannot, or have no 
stability. If the undertaking is good, why not 
finish it ? If it is bad, why undertake it ? 
Strike down your quarry, if you are wise ; be 
not content to flush it. 

ccxliii Do not be too much of a Dove, 

Alternate the cunning of the serpent with 
the candour of the dove. Nothing is easier 
than to deceive an honest man. He believes in 
much who lies in naught ; who does no deceit, 
has much confidence. To be deceived is not 
always due to stupidity, it may arise from sheer 
goodness. There are two sets of men who can 
guard themselves from injury : those who have 
experienced it at their own cost, and those who 
have observed it at the cost of others. Prudence 
should use as much suspicion as subtlety uses 
snares, and none need be so good as to enable 
others to do him ill. Combine in yourself the 
dove and the serpent, not as a monster but as a 

ccxliv Create a feeling of Obligation, 
Some transform favours received into favours 


bestowed, and seem, or let it be thought, that 
they are doing a favour when receiving one. 
There are some so astute that they get honour 
by asking, and buy their own advantage with 
applause from others. They manage matters 
so cleverly that they seem to be doing others a 
service when receiving one from them. They 
transpose the order of obligation with extra- 
ordinary skill, or at least render it doubtful who 
has obliged whom. They buy the best by 
praising it, and make a flattering honour out 
of the pleasure they express. They oblige by 
their courtesy, and thus make men beholden 
for what they themselves should be beholden. 
In this way they conjugate " to oblige " in the 
active instead of in the passive voice, thereby 
proving themselves better politicians than gram- 
marians. This is a subtle piece oi finesse ; a still 
greater is to perceive it, and to retaliate on such 
fools' bargains by paying in their own coin, and 
so coming by your own again. 

ccxlv Original and out-of-the-way Views 

are signs ot superior ability. We do not 
think much of a man who never contradicts us : 
that is no sign he loves us, but rather that he 
loves himself. Do not be deceived by flattery, 


and thereby have to pay for it : rather con- 
demn it. Besides you may take credit for 
being censured by some, especially if they are 
those of whom the good speak ill. On the 
contrary, it should disturb us if our affairs 
please every one, for that is a sign that they are 
of little worth. Perfection is for the few. 

ccxlvi Never offer Satisfaction unless it is 

And if they do demand it, it is a kind of 
crime to give more than necessary. To excuse 
oneself before there is occasion is to accuse 
oneself. To draw blood in full health gives 
the hint to ill-will. An excuse unexpected 
arouses suspicion from its slumbers. Nor 
need a shrewd person show himself aware of 
another's suspicion, which is equivalent to 
seeking out offence. He had best disarm dis- 
trust by the integrity of his conduct. 

ccxlvii Know a little more, live a little less. 

Some say the opposite. To be at ease is 
better than to be at business. Nothing really 
belongs to us but time, which even he has who 
has nothing else. It is equally unfortunate to 
waste your precious life in mechanical tasks 


or in a profusion of important work. Do 
not heap up occupation and thereby envy : 
otherwise you complicate life and exhaust 
your mind. Some wish to apply the same 
principle to knowledge, but unless one knows 
one does not truly live. 

ccxlviii Do not go with the last speaker. 

There are persons who go by the latest 
edition, and thereby go to irrational extremes. 
Their feelings and desires are of wax : the 
last comer stamps them with his seal and 
obliterates all previous impressions. These 
never gain anything, for they lose everything 
so soon. Every one dyes them with his own 
colour. They are of no use as confidants ; 
they remain children their whole life. Owing 
to this instability of feeling and volition, 
they halt along cripples in will and thought, 
and totter from one side of the road to the 

ccxlix "Never begin Life with what should end it. 

Many take their amusement at the beginning, 
putting off anxiety to the end ; but the essential 
should come first and accessories afterwards if 
there is room. Others wish to triumph before 


they have fought. Others again begin with 
learning things of little consequence and leave 
studies that would bring them fame and gain 
to the end of life. Another is just about to 
make his fortune when he disappears from the 
scene. Method is essential for knowledge 
and for life. 

ccl When to change the Conversation. 

When they talk scandal. With some all 
goes contrariwise : their No is Yes, and their 
Yes No. If they speak ill of a thing it is the 
highest praise. For what they want for them- 
selves they depreciate to others. To praise 
a thing is not always to speak well of it, for 
some, to avoid praising what's good, praise 
what's bad, and nothing is good for him for 
whom nothing is bad. 

ccli Use human Means as if there were no divine 
oneSf and divine as if there were no human ones. 

A masterly rule : it needs no comment. 

cclii Neither belong entirely to Yourself nor 
entirely to Others. 

Both are mean forms of tyranny. To desire 
to be all for oneself is the same as desiring to 


have all for oneself. Such persons will not 
yield a jot or lose a tittle of their comfort. 
They are rarely beholden, lean on their own 
luck, and their crutch generally breaks. It 
is convenient at times to belong to others, that 
others may belong to us. And he that holds 
public office is no more nor less than a public 
slave, or let a man give up both berth and 
burthen, as the old woman said to Hadrian. 
On the other hand, others are all for others, 
which is folly, that always flies to extremes, 
m this case in a most unfortunate manner. 
No day, no hour, is their own, but they have 
so much too much of others that they may 
be called the slaves of all. This applies even 
to knowledge, where a man may know every- 
thing for others and nothing for himself. A 
shrewd man knows that others when they seek 
him do not seek him^ but their advantage in 
him and by him. 

ccliii Do not Explain overmuch. 

Most men do not esteem what they under- 
stand, and venerate what they do not see. To 
be valued things should cost dear : what is 
not understood becomes overrated. You have 
to appear wiser and more prudent than he 


requires with whom you deal, if you desire 
to give him a high opinion of you : yet in this 
there should be moderation and no excess. 
And though with sensible people common sense 
holds its own, with most men a little elabor- 
ation is necessary. Give them no time for 
blame : occupy them with understanding your 
drift. Many praise a thing without being able 
to tell why, if asked. The reason is that they 
venerate the unknown as a mystery, and praise 
it because they hear it praised. 

ccliv Never despise an Evil, however smaL, 
for they never come alone : they are 
linked together like pieces of good fortune. 
Fortune and misfortune generally go to find 
their feilows. Hence all avoid the unlucky 
and associate with the fortunate. Even 
the doves with all their innocence resort to 
the whitest walls. Everything fails with 
the unfortunate — himself, his words, and 
his luck. Do not wake Misfortune when 
she sleeps. One slip is a little thing : yet 
some fatal loss may follow it till you do not 
know where it will end. For just as no 
happiness is perfect, so no ill-luck is complete. 
Patience serves with what comes from above, 
prudence with that from below. 


cclv Do Good a little at a time, but often. 

One should never give beyond the possibility 
of return. Who gives much does not give but 
sells. Nor drain gratitude to the dregs, for 
when the recipient sees all return is impossible 
he breaks off correspondence. With many 
persons it is not necessary to do more than 
overburden them with favours to lose them 
altogether : they cannot repay you, and so 
they retire, preferring rather to be enemies 
than perpetual debtors. The idol never 
wishes to see before him the sculptor who 
shaped him, nor does the benefited wish to 
see his benefactor always before his eyes. 
There is a great subtlety in giving what costs 
little yet is much desired, so that it is esteemed 
the more. 

cclvi Go armed against Discourtesy, 

and against perfidy, presumption, and all 
other kinds of folly. There is much of it 
in the world, and prudence lies in avoiding 
a meeting with it. Arm yourself each day 
before the mirror of attention with the 
weapons of defence. Thus you will beat 
down the attacks of folly. Be prepared for 
the occasion, and do not expose your reputation 


to vulgar contingencies. Armed with prudence, 
a man cannot be disarmed by impertinence. 
The road of human intercourse is difficult, for 
it is full of ruts which may jolt our credit. 
Best to take a byway, taking Ulysses as a 
model of shrewdness. Feigned misunder- 
standing is of great value in such matters. 
Aided by politeness it helps us over all, and 
is often the only way out of difficulties. 

cclvii Never let Matters come to a Rupture^ 

for our reputation always comes injured 
out of the encounter. Every one may be of 
importance as an enemy if not as a friend. 
Few can do us good, almost any can do us 
harm. In Jove's bosom itself even his eagle 
never nestles securely from the day he has 
quarrelled with a beetle. Hidden foes use the 
paw of the declared enemy to stir up the fire, 
and meanwhile they lie in ambush for such 
an occasion. Friends provoked become the 
bitterest of enemies. • They cover their own 
failings with the faults of others. Every 
one speaks as things seem to him, and things 
seem as he wishes them to appear. All blame 
us at the beginning for want of foresight, at 
the end for lack of patience, at all times for 


imprudence. If, however, a breach is inevit- 
able, let it be rather excused as a slackening of 
friendship than by an outburst of wrath : here 
is a good application of the saying about a 
good retreat. 

cclviii Find out some one to share •^our Troubles, 

You will never be all alone, even in dangers, 
nor bear all the burden of hate. Some think 
by their high position to carry off the whole 
glory of success, and have to bear the whole 
humiliation of defeat. In this way they have 
none to excuse them, none to share the blame. 
Neither fate nor the mob are so bold against 
two. Hence the wise physician, if he has 
failed to cure, looks out for some one who, 
under the name of a consultation, may help him 
carry out the corpse. Share weight and woe, 
for misfortune falls with double force on him 
that stands alone. 

cclix Anticipate Injuries and turn them into 

It is wiser to avoid than to revenge them. 
It is an uncommon piece of shrewdness to 
change a rival into a confidant, or transform 
into guards of honour those who were aimmg 


attacks at us. It helps much to know how to 
oblige, for he leaves no time for injuries that 
fills it up with gratitude. That is true savoir 
/aire to turn anxieties into pleasures. Try 
and make a confidential relation out of ill-will 

cclx We belong to none and none to us^ entirely. 

Neither relationship nor friendship nor the 
most intimate connection is sufficient to effect 
this. To give one's whole confidence is quite 
different from giving one's regard. The closest 
intimacy has its exceptions, without which the 
laws of friendship would be broken. The 
friend always keeps one secret to himself, and 
even the son always hides something from his 
father. Some things are kept from one that 
are revealed to another and vice versa. In this 
way one reveals all and conceals all, by making 
a distinction among the persons with whom we 
are connected. 

cclxi Do not follow up a Folly. 

Many make an obligation out of a blunder, 
and because they have entered the wrong path 
think it proves their strength of character to go 
on in it. Within they regret their error, while 


outwardly they excuse it. At the beginning 
of their mistake they were regarded as inatten- 
tive, in the end as fools. Neither an uncon- 
sidered promise nor a mistaken resolution are 
really binding. Yet some continue in their 
folly and prefer to be constant fools. 

cclxii Be able to Forget. 

It is more a matter of luck than of skill. The 
things we remember best are those better for- 
gotten. Memory is not only unruly, leaving 
us in the lurch when most needed, but stupid 
as well, putting its nose into places where it is 
not wanted. In painful things it is active, but 
neglectful in recalling the pleasurable. Very 
often the only remedy for the ill is to forget it, 
and all we forget is the remedy. Nevertheless 
one should cultivate good habits of memory, 
for it is capable of making existence a Paradise 
or an Inferno. The happy are an exception 
who enjoy innocently their simple happiness. 

cclxiii Many things of Taste one should not 
possess oneself. 

One enjoys them better if another's than if 
one's own. The owner has the good of them 
the first day, for all the rest of the time they 


are for others. You take a double enjoyment 
in other men's property, being without fear of 
spoiling it and with the pleasure of novelty. 
Everything tastes better for having been with- 
out it : even water from another's well tastes 
like nectar. Possession not alone hinders 
enjoyment : it increases annoyance whether 
you lend or keep. You gain nothing except 
keeping things for or from others, and by this 
means gain more enemies than friends. 

cclxiv Have no careless Days, 

Fate loves to play tricks, and will heap up 
chances to catch us unawares. Our intelli- 
gence, prudence, and courage, even our beauty, 
must always be ready for trial. For their day 
of careless trust will be that of their discredit. 
Care always fails just when it was most wanted. 
It is thoughtlessness that trips us up into de- 
struction. Accordingly it is a piece of military 
strategy to put perfection to its trial when un- 
prepared. The days of parade are known and 
are allowed to pass by, but the day is chosen 
when least expected so as to put valour to the 
severest test. 

cclxv Set those under you difficult Tasks. 
Many have proved themselves able at once 


when they had to deal with a difficulty, just 
as fear of drowning makes a swimmer of a man. 
In this way many have discovered their own 
courage, knowledge, or tact, which but for the 
opportunity would have been for ever buried 
beneath their want ot enterprise. Dangers are 
the occasions to create a name for oneself, and 
if a noble mind sees honour at stake, he will 
do the work of thousands. Queen Isabella the 
Catholic knew well this rule of life, as well as 
all the others, and to a shrewd favour of this 
kind from her the Great Captain won his 
fame, and many others earned an undying 
name. By this great art she made great men, 

cclxvi Do not become Bad from sheer Goodness, 

That is, by never getting into a temper. 
Such men without feeling are scarcely to be 
considered men. It does not always arise 
from laziness, but from sheer inability. To 
feel strongly on occasion is something personal : 
birds soon mock at the mawkin. It is a sign 
of good taste to combine bitter and sweet. 
All sweets is diet for children and fools. It 
is very bad to sink into such insensibility out 
of very goodness. 


cclxvii Silken Words ^ sugared Manners. 

Arrows pierce the body, insults the soul. 
Sweet pastry perfumes the breath. It is a 
great art in life to know how to sell wind. 
Most things are paid for in words, and by 
them you can remove impossibilities. Thus 
we deal in air, and a royal breath can produce 
courage and power. Always have your mouth 
full of sugar to sweeten your words, so that 
even your ill-wishers enjoy them. To please 
one must be peaceful. 

cclxviii The Wise do at once what the Fool 
does at last. 

Both do the same thing ; the only difference 
lies in the time they do it : the one at the 
right time, the other at the wrong. Who 
starts out with his mind topsyturvy will so 
continue till the end. He catches by the 
foot what he ought to knock on the head, he 
turns right into left, and in all his acts is 
but a child. There is only one way to get him 
in the right way, and that is to force him to do 
what he might have done of his own accord. 
The wise man, on the other hand, sees at once 
what must be done sooner or later, so he does 
it willingly and gains honour thereby. 


cclxix Make use of the Novelty of your Position ; 

for men are valued while they are new. 
Novelty pleases all because it is uncommon, 
taste is refreshed, and a brand new mediocrity 
IS thought more of than accustomed excel- 
lence. Ability wears away by use and becomes 
old. However, know that the glory of novelty 
is short-lived : after four days respect is gone. 
Accordingly, learn to utilise the first fruits of 
appreciation, and seize during the rapid passage 
of applause all that can be put to use. For once 
the heat of novelty over, the passion cools and 
the appreciation of novelty is exchanged for 
satiety at the customary : believe that all has 
its season, which soon passes. 

cclxx Do not condemn alone that which pleases all. 

There must be something good in a thing 
that pleases so many ; even if it cannot be 
explained it is certainly enjoyed. Singularity 
IS always hated, and, when in the wrong, 
laughed at. You simply destroy respect for 
your taste rather than do harm to the object 
of your blame, and are left alone, you and 
your bad taste. If you cannot find the good 
in a thing, hide your incapacity and do not 
damn it straightway. As a general rule bad 


taste springs from want of knowledge. What 
all say, is so, or will be so. 

cclxxi In every Occupation if you know little 

stick to the safest. 
If you are not respected as subtle, you will 
be regarded as sure. On the other hand, a 
man well trained can plunge in and act as he 
pleases. To know little and yet seek danger 
is nothing else than to seek ruin. In such 
a case take stand on the right hand, for what 
is done cannot be undone. Let little know- 
ledge keep to the king's highway, and in 
every case, knowing or unknowing, security 
is shrewder than singularity. 

cclxxii Sell Things by the Tariff of Courtesy. 

You oblige people most that way. The 
bid of an interested buyer will never equal 
the return gift of an honourable recipient of 
a favour. Courtesy does not really make 
presents, but really lays men under obligation, 
and generosity is the great obligation. To 
a right-minded man nothing costs more dear 
that what is given him : you sell it him twice 
and for two prices : one for the value, one for 
the politeness. At the same time it is true 
that with vulgar souls generosity is gibberish, 


for they do not understand the language ol 
good breeding. 

cclxxiii Comprehend their Dispositions with 
whom you deal, 

so as to know their intentions. Cause 
known, effect known, beforehand in the dis- 
position and after in the motive. The 
melancholy man always foresees misfortunes, 
the backbiter scandals ; having no conception 
of the good, evil offers itself to them. A 
man moved by passion always speaks of things 
differently from what they are ; it is his 
passion speaks, not his reason. Thus each 
speaks as his feeling or his humour prompts 
him, and all far from the truth. Learn how 
to decipher faces and spell out the soul in the 
features. It a man laughs always, set him 
down as foolish ; if never, as false. Beware of 
the gossip : he is either a babbler or a spy. 
Expect little good from the misshapen : they 
generally take revenge on Nature, and do 
little honour to her, as she has done little to 
them. Beauty and folly generally go hand in 

cclxxiv Be Attractive, 

It is the magic of subtle courtesy. Use the 


magnet of your pleasant qualities more to 
obtain goodwill than good deeds, but apply it 
to all. Merit is not enough unless supported 
by grace, which is the sole thing that gives 
general acceptance, and the most practical 
means of rule over others. To be in vogue 
is a matter of luck, yet it can be encouraged 
by skill, for art can best take root on a soil 
favoured by nature. There goodwill grows 
and develops into universal favour. 

cclxxv Join in the Game as far as Decency 

Do not always pose and be a bore : this is a 
maxim for gallant bearing. You may yield 
a touch of dignity to gain the general good- 
will : you may now and then go where most 
go, yet not beyond the bounds of decorum. 
He who makes a fool of himself in public will 
not be regarded as discreet in private life. One 
may lose more on a day of pleasure than has 
been gained during a whole life of labour. Still 
you must not always keep away : to be singular 
is to condemn all others. Still less act the 
prude — leave that to its appropriate sex : even 
religious prudery is ridiculous. Nothing so 
becomes a man as to be a man : a v/oman may 


affect a manly bearing as an excellence, but 
not vice versa. 

cclxxvi Know how to renew your Character, 

with the help both of Nature and of Art. 
Every seven years the disposition changes, 
they say. Let it be a change for the better 
and for the nobler in your taste. After the 
first seven comes reason, with each succeeding 
lustre let a new excellence be added. Observe 
this change so as to aid it, and hope also for 
betterment in others. Hence it arises that 
many change their behaviour when they 
change their position or their occupation. 
At times the change is not noticed till it 
reaches the height of maturity. At twenty 
Man is a Peacock, at thirty a Lion, at forty 
a Camel, at fifty a Serpent, at sixty a Dog, 
at seventy an Ape, at eighty nothing at all. 

cclxxvii Display yourself, 

'Tis the illumination of talents : for each 
there comes an appropriate moment ; use it, 
for not every day comes a triumph. There are 
some dashing men who make much show with 
a little, a whole exhibition with much. It 
ability to display them is joined to versatile 
gifts, they are regarded as miraculous.' There 


are whole nations given to display : the Spanish 
people take the highest rank in this. Light 
was the first thing to cause Creation to shine 
forth. Display fills up much, supplies much, 
and gives a second existence to things, especi- 
ally when combined with real excellence. 
Heaven that grants perfection, provides also 
the means of display ; for one without the 
other were abortive. Skill Is however needed 
for display. Even excellence depends on 
circumstances and is not always opportune. 
Ostentation Is out of place when It is out of 
time. More than any other quality It should 
be free of any aff'ectatlon. This Is Its rock 
of ofi^ence, for It then borders on vanity and 
so on contempt : It must be moderate to avoid 
being vulgar, and any excess is despised by the 
wise. At times It consists In a sort of mute 
eloquence, a careless display of excellence, for 
a wise concealment Is often the most effective 
boast, since the very withdrawal from view 
piques curiosity to the highest. 'Tis a fine 
subtlety too not to display one's excellence 
all at one time, but to grant stolen glances at 
it, more and more as time goes on. Each 
exploit should be the pledge of a greater, 
and applause at the first should only die away 
in expectation of its sequel. 


cclxxviii Avoid Notoriety in all Things. 

Even excellences become defects if they 
become notorious. Notoriety arises from 
singularity, which is always blamed : he that 
is singular is left severely alone. Even beauty 
is discredited by coxcombry, which offends by 
the very notice it attracts. Still more does 
this apply to discreditable singularities. Yet 
among the wicked there are some that seek to 
be known for seeking novelties in vice so 
as to attain to the fame of infamy. Even m 
matters of the intellect want of moderation 
may degenerate into loquacity. 

cclxxix Do not contradict the Contradicter. 

You have to distinguish whether the contra- 
diction comes from cunning or from vulgarity. 
It is not always obstinacy, but may be artful- 
ness. Notice this : for in the first case one may 
get into difficulties, in the other into danger. 
Caution is never more needed than against 
spies. There is no such countercheck to the 
picklock of the mind as to leave the key of 
caution in the lock. 

cclxxx Be Trustworthy. 
Honourable dealing is at an end : trusts are 


denied : few keep their word : the greater the 
service, the poorer the reward : that is the 
way with all the world nowadays. There 
are whole nations inclined to false dealing : 
with some treachery has always to be feared, 
with others breach of promise, with others 
deceit. Yet this bad behaviour of others should 
rather be a warning to us than an example. 
The fear is that the sight of such unworthy 
behaviour should override our integrity. But 
a man of honour should never forget what he 
is because he sees what others are. 

cclxxxi Fina Favour with Men of Sense. 

The tepid Yes of a remarkable man is worth 
more than all the applause of the vulgar : you 
cannot make a meal off the smoke of chaff. 
The wise speak with understanding and their 
praise gives permanent satisfaction. The sage 
Antigonus reduced the theatre of his fame 
to Zeus alone, and Plato called Aristotle his 
whole school. Some strive to fill their stomach 
albeit only with the breath of the mob. Even 
monarchs have need of authors, and fear their 
pens more than ugly women the painter's 


cclxxxii Make use of Absence to make yourself 
more esteemed or valued. 

If the accustomed presence diminishes fame, 
absence augments it. One that is regarded 
as a lion in his absence may be laughed at 
when present as the ridiculous result of the 
parturition of the mountains. Talents get 
soiled by use, for it is easier to see the exterior 
rind than the kernel of greatness it encloses. 
Imagination reaches farther than sight, and 
disillusion, which ordinarily comes through the 
ears, also goes out through the ears. He keeps 
his fame that keeps himself in the centre of 
public opinion. Even the Phoenix uses its 
retirement for new adornment and turns ab- 
sence into desire. 

cclxxxiii Have the Gift of Discovery, 

It is a proof of the highest genius, yet when 
was genius without a touch of madness ? If 
discovery be a gift of genius, choice of means 
is a mark of sound sense. Discovery comes 
by special grace and very seldom. For many 
can follow up a thing when found, but to find 
it first is the gift of the few, and those the 
first in excellence and in age. Novelty flatters, 
and if successful gives the possessor double 


credit. In matters of judgment novelties 
are dangerous because leading to paradox, in 
matters of genius they deserve all praise. Yet 
both equally deserve applause if successful. 

cclxxxiv Do not be Importunate y 

and so you will not be slighted. Respect 
yourself if you would have others respect 
you. Be sooner sparing than lavish with 
your presence. You will thus become desired 
and so well received. Never come unasked 
and only go when sent for. If you under- 
take a thing of your own accord you get 
all the blame if it fails, none of the thanks 
if it succeeds. The importunate is always 
the butt of blame ; and because he thrusts 
himself in without shame he is thrust out 
with it. 

cclxxxv Never die of another^ s Ill-luck. 

Notice those who stick in the mud, and 
observe how they call others to their aid so as 
to console themselves with a companion in 
misfortune. They seek some one to help them 
to bear misfortune, and often those who turned 
the cold shoulder on them in prosperity give 
them now a helping hand. There is great 


caution needed in helping the drowning with- 
out danger to oneself. 

cclxxxvi Do not become responsible for all or 
for every one^ 

otherwise you become a slave and the slave 
of all. Some are born more fortunate than 
others : they are born to do good as others to 
receive it. Freedom is more precious than 
any gifts for which you may be tempted to 
give it up. Lay less stress on making many 
dependent on you than on keeping yourself 
independent of any. The sole advantage of 
power is that you can do more good. Above 
all do not regard responsibility as a favour, 
for generally it is another's plan to make one 
dependent on him. 

cclxxxvii 'Never act in a Passion. 

If you do, all is lost. You cannot act for 
yourself if you are not yourself, and passion 
always drives out reason. In such cases inter- 
pose a- prudent go-between who can only be 
prudent if he keeps cool. That is why lookers- 
on see most of the game, because they keep cool. 
As soon as you notice that you are losing your 
temper beat a wise retreat. For no sooner is 


the blood up than it is spilt, and in a few 
moments occasion may be given for many- 
days' repentance for oneself and complaints 
of the other party. 

cclxxxviii Live for the Moment, 

Our acts and thoughts and all must be de- 
termined by circumstances. Will when you 
may, for time and tide wait for no man. Do 
not live by certain fixed rules, except those 
that relate to the cardinal virtues. Nor let 
your will subscribe fixed conditions, for you 
may have to drink the water to-morrow which 
you cast away to-day. There be some so 
absurdly paradoxical that they expect all 
the circumstances ot an action should bend 
to their eccentric whims and not vice versa. 
The wise man knows that the very polestar of 
prudence lies in steering by the wind. 

cclxxxix Nothing depreciates a Man more than 
to show he is a Man like other Men. 

The day he is seen to be very human he 
ceases to be thought divine. Frivolity is the 
exact opposite of reputation. And as the re- 
served are held to be more than men, so the 
frivolous are held to be less. No failing causes 


such failure of respect. For frivolity is the 
exact opposite of solid seriousness. A man of 
levity cannot be a man of weight even when 
he is old, and age should oblige him to be 
prudent. Although this blemish is so com- 
mon it is none the less despised. 

ccxc ^Tis apiece of good Fortune to combine Men^s 
Love and Respect, 

Generally one dare not be liked if one 
would be respected. Love is more sensitive 
than hate. Love and honour do not go well 
together. So that one should aim neither to 
be much feared nor much loved. Love 
mtroduces confidence, and the further this 
advances, the more respect recedes. Prefer to 
be loved with respect rather than with passion, 
for that is a love suitable for many. 

ccxci Know how to Test. 

The care of the wise must guard against the 
snare of the wicked. Great judgment is 
needed to test that of another. It is more 
important to know the characteristics and 
properties of persons than those of vegetables 
and minerals. It is indeed one of the shrewd- 
est things in life. You can tell metals by 


their ring and men by their voice. Words 
are proof of integrity, deeds still more. Here 
one requires extraordinary care, deep obser- 
vation, subtle discernment, and judicious de- 

ccxcii Let your personal ^alkies surpass those of 
your Office. 

Let it not be the other way about. How- 
ever high the post, the person should be higher. 
An extensive capacity expands and dilates more 
and more as his office becomes higher-. On 
the other hand, the narrow-minded will easily 
lose heart and come to grief with diminished 
responsibilities and reputation. The great 
Augustus thought more of being a great man 
than a great prince. Here a lofty mind finds 
fit place, and well-grounded confidence finds 
its opportunity. 

ccxciii Maturity. 

It is shown in the costume, still more in the 
customs. Material weight is the sign of a 
precious metal ; moral, of a precious man. 
Maturity gives finish to his capacity and 
arouses respect. A composed bearing in a 
man forms a facade to his soul. It does not 


consist in the insensibility of fools, as frivolity 
would have it, but in a calm tone of authority. 
With men of this kind sentences are orations and 
acts are deeds. Maturity finishes a man off, for 
each is so far a complete man according as he 
possesses maturity. On ceasing to be a child 
a man begins to gain seriousness and authority. 

ccxciv Be moderate tnyour Views, 

Every one holds views according to his 
interest, and imagines he has abundant grounds 
for them. For with most men judgment has 
to give way to inclination. It may occur that 
two may meet with exactly opposite views and 
yet each thinks to have reason on his side, yet 
reason is always true to itself and never has 
two faces. In such a difficulty a prudent man 
will go to work with care, tor his decision of his 
opponent's view may cast doubt on his own. 
Place yourself in such a case in the other 
man's place and then investigate the reasons for 
his opinion. You will not then condemn him 
or justify yourself in such a confusing way. 

ccxcv Do not affect what you have not effected. 

Many claim exploits without the slightest 
claim. With the greatest coolness they make 


a mystery of all. Chameleons of applause 
they afford others a surfeit of laughter. 
Vanity is always objectionable, here it is 
despicable. These ants of honour go crawling 
about filching scraps of exploits. The greater 
your exploits the less you need affect them : 
content yourself with doing, leave the talking 
to others. Give away your deeds but do not 
sell them. And do not hire venal pens to write 
down praises in the mud, to the derision of the 
knowing ones. Aspire rather to be a hero 
than merely to appear one. 

ccxcvi Noble ^alities. 

Noble qualities make noblemen : a single 
one of them is worth more than a multitude of 
mediocre ones. There was once a man who 
made all his belongings, even his household 
utensils, as great as possible. How much more 
ought a great man see that the qualities of his 
soul are as great as possible. In God all is 
eternal and infinite, so in a hero everything 
should be great and majestic, so that all his 
deeds, nay, all his words, should be pervaded by 
a transcendent majesty. 


ccxcvii Always act as if your Acts were seen. 

He must see all round who sees that men 
see him or will see him. He knows that walls 
have ears and that ill deeds rebound back. Even 
when alone he acts as if the eyes of the whole 
world were upon him. For as he knows that 
sooner or later all will be known, so he con- 
siders those to be present as witnesses who must 
afterwards hear of the deed. He that wished 
the whole world might always see him did not 
mind that his neighbours cjuld see him over 
their walls. 

ccxcviii Three Things go to a Prodigy. 

They are the choicest gifts of Heaven's pro 
digality — a fertile genius, a profound intellect, 
a pleasant and refined taste. To think well is 
good, to think right is better : 'tis the under- 
standing of the good. It will not do for the 
judgment to reside in the backbone : it would 
be of more trouble than use. To think aright 
is the fruit ot a reasonable nature. At twenty 
the will rules ; at thirty the intellect ; at forty 
the judgment. There are minds that shine in 
the dark like the eyes of the lynx, and are 
most clear where there is most darkness. 
Others are more adapted for the occasion : they 
always hit on that which suits the emergency : 


such a quality produces much and good ; a sort 
of fecund felicity. In the meantime good 
taste seasons the whole of life. ^ 

ccxcix Leave off Hungry, 

One ought to remove even the bowl of 
nectar from the lips. Demand is the measure 
of value. Even v^^ith regard to bodily thirst it 
is a mark of good taste to slake but not to 
quench it. Little and good is twice good. 
The second time comes a great falling off. 
Surfeit of pleasure was ever dangerous and 
brings down the ill-will of the Highest Powers. 
The only way to please is to revive the 
appetite by the hunger that is left. If you 
must excite desire, better do it by the im- 
patience of want than by the repletion of 
enjoyment. Happiness earned gives double 


ccc In one word, be a Saint. 

So is all said at once. Virtue is the link of 
all perfections, the centre of all the felicities. 
She it is that makes a man prudent, discreet, 
sagacious, cautious, wise, courageous, thoughtful, 
trustworthy, happy, honoured, truthful, and a 
universal Hero. Three HHH's make a man 
happy — Health, Holiness, and a Headpiece. 


Virtue is the sun of the microcosm, and has for 
hemisphere a good conscience. She is so 
beautiful that she finds favour with both God 
and man. Nothing is lovable but virtue, 
nothing detestable but vice. Virtue alone is 
serious, all else is but jest. A man's capacity 
and greatness are to be measured by his virtue 
and not by his fortune. She alone is all- 
sufficient. She makes men lovable in life, 
memorable after death. 



Orig. refers to the Spanish original, generally from the 
Barcelona edition of 1734, though I have occasionally 
referred to the Madrid edition of 1653, and at times used 
the text of the Biblhteca de autores espaiioles. This may 
have occasioned some inconsistencies, especially with regard 
to accentuation. Schop. refers to Schopenhauer's trans- 
lation J I have used Grisebach's edition in the Reclam 
series. M.G.D. is prefixed to quotations from Sir M. 
Grant Duff's renderings in Fort. Re-v., March 1877 j Eng. 
I. and II. refer to the English translations of 1694 and 
Savage's of 1702 respectively. 
Page Max. 

1 ii character and intellect — Orig. " Genio y ingenio" . 

Schop. "Herz und Kopf" j Eng. I. "Wit and 
a Genius." The first section of El Discreto has 
the same title. 
tivo poles — Orig. " los dos exes del lucimiento de 
prendas"} M.G.D. "The two axes of the 
brilliance of our accomplishments." 

2 iii nvhen ycu explain ,• cf. ccliii. 

the Divine nvay ; cf. " It is the glory of God to con- 
ceal a thing," Prov. xxv. 2. 

Page Max. 
3 V Not he that adorns — Orig. " No hace el numen el que 
lo dora sino el que lo adora " j Schop. " Den 
Gbtzen macht nicht der Vergolder sondern der 
golden platter — Orig. " del oro al lodo " ; lit. from the 
gold to the mire, 
vi yi Man ; from EI Dhcreto. 
5 ix strata — so Schop. " Schichten" j Orig. " venas donde 

7 xiii Second Thoughts — Orig. " intencion segunda." The 

expression and idea is derived from scholastic 
logic. Terms of second intention, i.e. logical 
technical terms, are doubly abstract, being ab- 
stractions of terms of first intention. 
'warfare against malice — Orig. " milicia . . . contra la 

8 xiv accident — Orig. "circumstancia" j again a scholastic 

term referring to the modes of real being. 

9 joy in life ; cf. Emerson : " Beautiful behaviour is 

the finest of the fine arts." 
XV make use of the ivise — " Make friends of the 
wise," said the Seven' Sages, ap. Stobaeus, Flor. 
iii. 80. 
great thing to know — Orig. " Ay mucho que saber y 
es poco el vivir" j Schop. takes it as a variant of 
Hippocrates' maxim, "Art is long," etc., and 
renders " Das Wissen ist lang, das Leben kurz." 
See, however, ccxlvii. 
loxvi Knowledge ivithout sense — " Ciencia sin seso locura 
doble " ; cf. Span. prov. " Ciencia es Locura si 
buen seso no la cura." 
xvii impulse — Orig. " intencion," a reference to xiii, 
where see Note. 

NOTES 185 

Page Max. 

1 1 xviii Application and Ability. Galton, Hereditary 

Genius, p. 38, adds zeal or energy. 
xix Arouse, etc. ; from El Heroe, §16. 

1 2 XX TAe sage has one ad-vantage. A favourite maxim 

of Schopenhauer, quoted by him in his ffll/e 
in d. Natur, 1836, p. 34, and written on his own 
copy of Die Welt als Wille, obviously applying 
it to himself. (See Grisebach, Edita und 
Inedita, p. 104.) 

14 xxiii soon finds out — Orig. "para luego y aun repara." 

15 XXV Knoiv ho^u, etc. — Orig. " Buen entendedor"j 

from El Discreto. Eng. I. " A good Pryer " 5 
Eng. II. "A good Understanding." The 
reference is to the Span. prov. "A buen 
entendedor pocas palabras," Don S^uixote, ii. cc. 
37, 60. Sly uses the later half in Taming of 
Shretv Induction, "Therefore pocas palabras, 
let the world slide, sessa ! " 

16 xxvii giants are real diuarfi^ cf. Bacon's apophthegm, 

" Nature did never put her jewels in garrets." 

try the brawn. A slight embellishment. Orig. 

"para exercitar antes los bra90s que los ingenios." 

xxviii great and ivise — Phocion ; ap. Plutarch, Reg. et 

Imp. Apophthegm. Phocion, 4. 

1 7 chameleons of popularity ,* cf. ccxcv. 

xxix Many praise it i cf. " Probitas laudatur et alget," 
Juv. Sat. i. 74. 

18 xxxi Select the Lucky. QuottAhy AMison'm Spectator, 

No. 293. The Rothschilds are said to act on 
this principle in their business relations. 
Never open ; cf. ccliv. 

1 9 ivin the odd trick — Orig. merely " hallan con la 



Page Max. 

19 xxxii Those make friejids y cf. xl, cxi. 
xxxiii One is not obliged; cf. cclx. 

20 XXXV All fools', cf. Stevenson, Kidnapped, c. xiv. aa 

fin. : " I have seen wicked men and fools, a 
great many of them ; and 1 believe they 
both got paid in the end j but the fools 

21 yixxvi favours the bold; cf. Span. prov. "Al hombre 

osado la Fortuna lada la mano." 

22 xxxvii Keep a Store of Sarcasms, etc. — Eng. I. and IL 

"To guess at the meaning of the little Hints 
that are given us by the bye, and to know how 
to make the best of them." 

24 xl From El Heroe, § 1 2. 

25 xliii From El Disouc, " Hombre juizio." 

26 xliv for mystery and fr use — Orig. "por lo culto y por 

lo ventojoso." 

28 xlvii One affair — Orig. has a play upon "empeno" and 

"despeno," which I have tried to repro- 

29 xlviii no use boring — Orig. "No ay en estos donde parar 

6 todo para." 
xlix From El Discreto, c. xviii. 

30 li Know how, etc. j from El Discreto, c. ix. 

3 1 liii From El Discreto, c. xx. 

Festina lente — Orig. " Correr a espacio." This is 
not given in Dielitz' elaborate work on Wahl- 
und Denkspriiche, Gorlitz, 1884, so I suspect 
it was Gracian's version of Augustus* motto, 
o-7re05e jS/sax^ws, generally translated Festina 

32 Iv Wait ; from EI Discreto, c. iii, mainly from the 

end. It is called an Allegoria. 

NOTES 187 

Page Max. 

32 Iw He spake. Charles V. according to El Dis- 

crete, I.e. Schop. attributes the saying to 
Philip II. 

33 Ivi Ha'ue Presence of Mind; from El Discrete, c. xiv. 

natures of Antiperistasis. The energy aroused by 
opposition. Johnson gives example from 
Cowley (M.G.D.) It occurs also in Bacon 
{Colours, vii.) and Browne {Rel. Med. II. x.) 
Macaulay also uses it in his essay on Bacon 
(Oxford Diet.) 

work best in an emergency. So Galton, Hereditary 
Genius, p. 48, who speaks of men " formed to 
shine under exceptional circumstances," as in 
the Indian Mutiny. 
Ivii Sluickly done; cf. Herbert, Jacula Prudentum, 
"Good and quickly seldom meet." 

34 lix Finish offivell; from El Discrete, c. xi. 

think of the finish ; cf. Ixvi. 

Few in life — Orig. "J^ue son raros los deseados." 

35 warmly as — Orig. "lo que se muesta de eumplida 

con los que vienen de descortes con los que 
van." M.G.D. "Seldom does fortune conduct 
a parting guest to the threshold." 

Ix by the helm of state. So Schop. " Solche Leute 
verdienen am Staatsruder zu stehen, sei es zur 
Lenkung oder zum Rath " j Orig. " Merecen 
estos la asisten-.ia al gobernarle 6 para exercicio 
6 para consejo." 

Ixi To Excel ; from El Heroe, p. vi. 

36 Ixii Use good Instruments. Chap. iii. of Sir H. Tay- 

lor's The Statesman is entitled " A Statesman's 
most pregnant Function lies in the Choice and 
Use of Instruments." 


Page Max. 

36 Ixii all the blame } cf. Sir A. Helps's Essays in Intervals 

of Business (Macmillan, 1890), p. 44 : "You 
have to choose persons for whose faults you 
are to be punished, to whom you are to be 
the whipping boy." 
Ixiii To be the First ; from El Heroe, primor vii. 

37 Ixv Elevated Taste ,• from El Hcroe, primor v. Eng. 

IL " The Fine Taste," and so quoted by 
Addison, Spectator, No. 409. 

38 Ixvi See that Things end ivell ; cf. lix. 

A good end gilds. Here the Jesuit speaks. 

39 Ixvii Prefer Callings ^^ en E'vidence" ; from El Heroe, 

primor viii. 
kitigs ofAragon. Gracian was himself an Aragonese. 

40 Ixix Do not gi'ue ivay, etc. ; from El Discreto, c. xiii. 
42 Ixxi Do not Vacillate ; from El Discreto, c. vi. 

45 Ixxvi Do not always be Jesting; from El Discreto, 

c. ix. 
A continual jest — Orig. " No ay mayor desayre 
que el continue donayre." 
Ixxvii Be all Things to all Men. A touch of Gracian's 
training as Jesuit. 

46 universal genius — Orig. " varon universal de in- 

genio en noticias y de genio en gustos " j cf. ii. 
Ixxix join in the fin ; cf. cclxxv. 
48 Ixxxi mediocrity that's netv ; cf. cclxix. 
Change the scene ; cf. cxcviii. 
Ixxxii A sage — Aristotle. 
4.9 Ixxxiii leave your cloak — an image taken from the bull- 
fight, when the matador allows the bull to 
rush at his cloak held sideways. Gracian 
uses the same image in El Criticon, i. 3. 
Ixxxiv blade tuhich cuts ,• cf. ccxxiv. 

NOTES 189 

Page Max. 

50 Ixxxv Manille. Schop. suggests that this is the Manillio 

of Hombre, the second best trump (cf. Pope, 
Rape of Lock, iii. 5 1 ). But there is a game 
mentioned by Littre j.i/., which is obviously the 
one referred to by Gracian. In this the nine 
of diamonds, called Manille, can be made any 
value the player wishes, Manille thus means 
a combination of a Jack of all Trades and a 
universal drudge. 

5 1 Ixxxvii Culture and Elegance ,• from El Discrete, c. xvii. 

53 xc The Secret; cf. Fuller, "He lives long who 

lives well." 
have not the ivill. So, it is said, negroes and 
savages die in circumstances where Europeans 
keep alive simply because they have " the will 
to live, the competence to be." 

54 xcii an ounce oftvisdom — Orig. " Mas vale un grano de 

cordura que arrobas de sutileza." 

55 xciv Keep the extent, etc. j from El Heroe, i. 

xcv single cast ; cf. clxxxv. 

xcvi The highest Discretion — Orig. " la gran sinderesis." 

56 xcviii Write your Intentions in Cypher i horn El Heroe, i\. 

57 adopt the policy — Orig. " A linces de discurso gibias 

de interioridad," I have omitted the lynxes, 
who have little to do with cuttle-fish (pi. of 
Sp. jibia). 
xcix Things pass, etc. A favourite expression of 
Gracian's 5 cf. cxxx, cxlvi ; cf. also the German 
proverb, " Was scheint, das gilt." 

58 ci What one pursues — Orig. "Lo que este sigue, el 

otro persigue." 

59 cii find their proper place — Orig. " No caben en si 

porque no cabe en ellos la suerte." 


Page Max. 

60 cv gains by courtesy — Grig. '* gana por lo cortes lo 

que pierde por lo corto." 

63 cix ■prison — Grig, "galera," a sort of Bridewell. 

64 cxi ivay to gain friendly Jeelings ^ cf. xxxii, xl. 

65 cxii Ser-vice Road — Grig. " Es grande el rodeo de solos 

los meritos sino se ayudan del favor." 
69 cxix to be esteemed — Grig, " el que quiere hacer casa 

hace caso." 
7 1 cxxii Distinction ,• from El Discrete, c. ii. 

73 cxxvi ivise try to hide ,• cf, Prov, xii. 16 " A fool's vexa- 

tion is speedily known, but the prudent man 
concealeth shame." 
live chastely — Grig, " Si no es uno casto, sea 
cauto " J Schop. turns neatly into Latin, caute 
nisi caste. 

74 learn to forget ; cf. cclxii, 

cxxvii Grace in Everything ; from El Heroe, c. xiii. 

75 cxxix Never complain. "I make it a point never to 

complain," Mr. Disraeli once said in the House ; 
cf. cxlv. 

76 cxxx Even the Right ,• cf. xcix. 

things are judged by their lackets — Grig, merely 

"juzganse las cosas por fuera." 
jj cxxxiii Better Mad, etc, j cf. " In action wisdom goes by 

majorities," from " The Pilgrim's Scrip " in 

Richard Ftverel. 
78 the aphorism ,• from Aristotle, Pol. i. i ; also 

Heraclitus 5 cf. Grisebach, Schopenhauer' s 

Inedita, 78. Also Bacon, Essays. 
8ocxxxvii resembles the brute beast. See preceding note. 
88 cxlvii the sage said — Socrates. 
90 cli The pillow is a silent ; quoted by J, Morley, 


NOTES 191 

Page Max. 

90 clii The more he does — Orig. " Tanto por mas, quanto 
por menos," Schop. takes it differently : " Sei 
es dadurch dass er iiber uns oder dass er unter 
uns stehe." 
the cunning Fabula — Martial, Eplgr. viii. 79. 

<) I cViii Beware 0/ entering. The great Jewish teacher 
Hillel gave braver advice : " Where there is 
no man, dare to be a man " [Ethics of the 

93 civ synteresis; defined in Doctor and Student, Dial. I. ch. 
xiv., as : " The natural power of the soul set in the 
highest part thereof, moving it and stirring it to 
good and abhorring evil " ; cf. Milton, Common- 
place Book, ed. Horwood, § 79 ; and cf. Saunder, 
transl. of Schopenhauer, Aphorismen %ur Leher.s- 
iveisheit, c. v. § 34. 
'■'■ivise on horseback"; cf. " Nadie es cuerdo a 
caballo," Span, prov. quoted by Schop. 
clvi Only after, etc. — Orig. " (^ue lo han de ser a examen 
de la discrecion y a prueba de la fortuna, gradu- 
ados no solo 'de la voluntad sino del entendi- 
Intelligence brings friends ; cf. Stevenson, Dr. Jekyll : 
" It is the mark of a modest man to accept 
his friends ready made at the hands of oppor- 

95 clviii^^ffg- in general; the scholastic maxim running 
"^uodlibet ens est unum, verum, bonum." 
ciix to put up ivith things ; av^x^adai. Kal airix^cdai, 
the great Epicurean maxim. 

96 clx Be carefil in Speaking ; cf. Prov. xxix. 20, " Seest 
thou a man that is hasty in his words ? there is 
more hope of a fool than of him." 

Page Max. 

97 clxii enough to despise them ,• cf. ccv. 

uoho speaks ivell. " It's poor foolishness," says 
Adam Bede, " to run down your enemies " ,• 
cf. Goethe. 

98 clxiv Throw Straws — Orig. " Echar al ayre algunas 

cosas " merely refers to feigned blows j cf. 

99 clxv poisoned arrows ,• rather an embellishment on the 

orig., which has merely " pero no mala (guerra)." 

100 clxv'i polite deceit ; cf. cxci. 

104 clxxiii Motes offend them — Orig. " Ofendenla las motas 

que no son menester ya notas." 
the Amant is half adamant. This seems the only 
way of retaining the "conceit" and jingle of 
the orig, : "La condicion del Amante tiene la 
mitad de diamante en el durar y en el resistir." 

105 clxxv Only Truth — profit'^ omitted by Schop. 
io()c\xY.x\\ A Grain of Boldness i cf. the opening of Bacon's 

Essay " Of Boldnesse," and Mrs. Poyser's 
aphorism, " It's them as take advantage that 
get advantage in this world, / think." 

1 12 clxxxvii it is the privilege ; cf. cclxxxvi. 

Ha-ve sotne one ; cf. Bacon, " Of Envy " : " The 
wiser Sort of Great Persons bring in ever upon 
the Stage some Body upon whom to derive 
the Envy that would come upon themselves." 

1 1 5 cxc The unlucky thinks — Orig. has a play upon the 
words "suerte" and " muerte." 
cxci Theirs is the Ba7tk of Elegance. I have no excuse 
for this. Orig. simply " Hacen precio con la 
cxcii no greater perversity — Orig. "No ay mayor 
desproposito que tomar lo todo tie proposito." 

NOTES 193 

Page Max. 

n6 cxciii Be intent — Orig. "Al intendido un buen 
their chestnuts — Orig. simply " Sacar del fuego el 
provecho ageno." 

117 cxcvi ruling Star. There are some grounds for be- 
lieving that great adventurers, like Napoleon, 
have a subjective star, hallucinatory of course, 
which appears to them at moments of great 
excitement j cf. Galton, Human Faculty^ 175- 

119 cxcviii nati-ve land a stepmother ^^ cf. contra Galton, 

Hered. Gen.y 360: "As a rule the very 
ablest men are strongly disinclined to emi- 
grate," and Prov. xxvii. 8. 

120 cc Lea-ve Somethings cf. Ixxxii, ccxcix. 

The body must respire — Orig. " Espira el cuerpo 
y anhela el espiritu." 

121 ccii Former are feminine ; cf. Span. prov. " Palabras 

hembras son hechos machos.'* Howell, Fam. 
Letters, quotes the saying as Italian ; cf. my 
edition, p. 270 and n. Herbert also gives it 
in his Jacula Prudentum. 
Eminent deeds endure. Schop. has characteris- 
tically expressed his dissent by annotating his 
own copy of the Oraculo at this point with a 
pithy " vale el contrario." 

122 cciv Attempt easy Tasks as if they ivere difficult. Ap- 

proved by Mr. Morley, Aphorisms. 
133 ccxx If you cannot, etc. There may be here a refer- 
ence to Lysander's saying in Plutarch : " If 
the lion's skin [of Hercules] is not long 
enough, we must stitch on to it a fox's 

Page Max. 

133 ccxxi They are always on the point of some stupidity — 

omitted by Schop. 

134 meetiuith them easily — Orig. "Encuentransecon 

gran facilidad y rompen con infelicidad." 
ccxxii Resevue is proof -^ cf. clxxix. 

135 ccxxiii more defects — so Orig. " J^ue son mas de- 

fectos que diferencias." 
ccxxiv taken by the blade ; cf. Ixxxiv. 

136 ccxxv Know your chief Fault ; cf. xxxiv. 

137 ccxxvii «£w casks; cf. the Span. prov. "A la 

vasija nueva dura el resabio." 

143 ccxxxvii share pears — Orig. " Pensara partir peras y 

, partira piedras." Schop. " Man glaubt Kir- 
schen mit ihnen zu essen, wird aber nur die 
steine erhalten." 

144 communicates his secret ; cf. Span. prov. " A 

quien dizes poridad a esse tu das la liberdad." 
neither tell secrets nor listen to them — Eng. I. 
puts it rather neatly : " Tis a maxim for 
secrets Neither to hear them nor to tell them " j 
cf. the maxim of the Seven Sages, ap. Sto- 
baeus, Flor. iii. 80 : "Tell none a secret." 
ccxxxviii something "wanting i cf. xxxiv, ccxxv. 

145 ccxl Speak to each; cf. Prov. xxvi. 5, " Ansvirer 

a fool according to his folly." 

146 ccxlii Everything stops — Orig. "Todo para en 

parar." Schop. omits. 
149 ccxWi To excuse oneself — Orig. " El escusarse antes 

de ocasion es culparse " j cf. Fr. prov. 

" Qxn s'excuse s'accuse." 
151 ccli Use human Means, etc. ; cf. " Human wit ought 

to be exhausted before we presume to invoke 

Divine interposition " (B. Disraeli, Tancred). 

NOTES 195 

Page Max. 

I5Z cclii berth and burthen — Orig. "Renuncie el cargo 
con la carga," The story goes that an old 
woman met Hadrian with a petition. He 
repulsed her, saying he had no time. "Then 
give up your berth," retorted the beldam. 
Hadrian recognised the justice of the rebuke 
and decided the petition on the spot. 
sla'ves of all i cf. " Men in great Place are thrice 
servants " (Bacon, Essay " Of Great Place"). 
There is something like this in El Criticon, i. 7. 
ccliii Do not Explain overmuch; cf. "Let the wise 
be warned against too great readiness of 
explanation " (G. Eliot, Middlemarch), 
do not esteem ivhat they understand ,• cf . — 

" Was man nicht weiss, das eben brauchte man, 
Und was man weiss kann man nicht brauchen." 
Goethe, Faust, Th. I. 
153 njenerate the unknown; cf. " Omne ignotum pro 

ccliv they never come alone; zi. Span. prov. ap. Don 
^luixote, i. 28, " Un mal llama a otro," and 
Shakespeare, " When sorrows come, they 
come not single spies, But in battalions," 
Hamlet, iv. 5. 
Do not ivake Misfortune ; cf. Span. prov. "Quando 
la mala Fortuna se duerme, nadie la despierte." 
One slip is a little thing ; cf. Stevenson, Dr. Jekyll 
158 cclxii The things ive remember best are those better for- 
gotten — quoted by Mr. Morley in Aphorisms. 
I59cclxiv Hai^e no careless Days. D'Artagnan acts on 
this principle in keeping always on guard 
over the king during journeys. Vicomte de 
Bragelonne, c. xii. 

Page Max. 

160 cclxv The Great Captain — Orig. "El gran Capitan," 

a reference to Gonsalvo de Cordova (1443- 
1515), who commanded the Spanish land 
forces against Chas. VIIL in Italy, and re- 
ceived his title "el gran Capitan" July 1496. 

161 cclxvii Silken Words. Parysatis, mother of the younger 

Cyrus, advised one who was about to have 
an audience with a king to use words 
wrapped in fine linen ; cf. Paley, Greek 
Wit^ i. No. 152. 
mouth full of oigar ; cf. contra Spurgeon's 
John Ploughman's Talk, "Do not be all 
sugar, or the world will suck you down," 
cclxviii Wise does at once ; cf. Span. prov. " Lo que hace 
el loco a la postre, hace sabio al principio " 
(quoted by Trench, Proverbs^, 116). 

163 cclxxi Let little knowledge — Orig. "A poco saber 
camino real." 

i64cclxxiii If a man laughs altuays — Orig. " Conosca al 
que siempre rie por falto y al que nunca 
por falso." 

i66cclxxvi At twenty ; cf. the ages in Ethics of the Jewish 
Fathers, ed. C. Taylor, p. 1 1 1 j L. Low, 
Die Lebensalter, p. 22 and «. j and Shake- 
speare in As Tou Like It. 
cclxxvii From El Discreto, c. xii. 

i68 cclxxix comes from cunning; cf. ccxiii. 

169 cclxxxi j;oK cannot make a meal — Orig. " Porque 
regueldos de aristas no alientan." Schop. 

lyocclxxxii riduculous result — Orig. " Ridiculo parto de los 
montes," a reference to Horace's " Parturiunt 
montes, nascetur ridiculus mus." 



Page Max. 

171 cclxxxv Neverdie — Schop, adds to his copy "y mucho 
menos de necedad y ruindad agena." 

I72cclxxxvi jo« can do more good i cf. clxxxvii ; cf. 
" Power to doe good is the true and law- 
full end of Aspiring " (Bacon, " Of Great 
Place "). 

173 cclxxxviii steering by the ivind. The derangement of 
metaphors is mine ; orig. has simply " En 
portarse a la ocasion." 
The care of the ivise, etc. — Orig. " Compita 
la atencion del juyzioso con la detencion 
del recatado." 
ccxcv From El Discrete, c. xix. 
ccxcvi Noble qualities make noblemen — Orig. "Las 
primeras hazen los primeros hombres." 
ccc Three HHH^s — Orig, "Tres eses hazen dich- 
oso, Santo, Sano y Sabio." Schop. " Drei 
Dinge die in Spanischen mit einem S an- 
fangen machen gliicklich — Heiligkeit, 
Gesundheit, und Weisheit." M.G.D. 
" Three SSS render a man happy, Sanctity, 
Soundness of body, and Sageness." 

174 ccxci 





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